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How Social Diversity Enriches Our Community

On Monday, our Assembly host Isabella ‘18 shared how her diverse group of friends and family have inspired her. Since our inception in 1983, one of our founding principles has been to bring children together from all walks of life and from all our North Bay communities in order to bring learning to life in as many ways as we can. Over the break, in fact, I reread a Scientific American article, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” by Columbia Business School professor Katherine W. Phillips, in which she reviews decades of research that demonstrates diverse groups outperform groups that are the same. At Assembly, I shared how researchers define “social diversity” as different races, ethnicities, economic status, genders, and sexual orientation and specify social diversity as different than diversity of individual expertise or learning.

In studies performed across a wide range of fields, researchers have found that diverse groups are more innovative than homogeneous groups and they are more creative and generate more original ideas that have value. This finding is consistent with two important aspirations of our school mission. As researchers state, while it may be obvious for a group of people with diverse individual expertise to more effectively problem solve than a homogeneous group, it is perhaps less obvious that social diversity can have the same effect. “This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort,” the article states.

This is pretty fascinating. Being around people who are different than us makes us more creative, smarter, more diligent, and even work harder! At Assembly I suggested to students that this is something for us all to consider and concluded my remarks with this quote from actress Angelina Jolie for the audience to consider as we sat in silence together:

“Our diversity is our strength. What a dull and pointless life it would be if everyone was the same.”

Brad Weaver, EdD
Head of School
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Sonoma Country Day School

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The premier, fully accredited, independent TK-8 college preparatory school in Sonoma County. Located in northern Santa Rosa and proud home of The Jackson Theater, SCDS offers a challenging academic program rich in fine and performing arts, music, world languages, and social and emotional learning. For more than thirty years SCDS has been the school that brings learning to life.