The Scroll

Believing in the Power of the Young

University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

Neil Badlani '20, Contributor

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Many people believe in theories that are founded on few assumptions, a principle called Occam’s Razor. But in the past, such beliefs have led me astray to false ideas.  I have realized that relying on shortcuts is a lazy way to learn and leads to biased thinking.  I believe in doing deep research, uncovering facts, and coming to conclusions based on them.

Last summer, I was doing an internship in Breakthrough Collaborative in Cincinnati, which provides learning opportunities to high potential and high need school students.  I assisted teachers who taught Latin, Math, and Science.  I helped organize speaking events and made videos of students talking about their experiences and the hurdles they faced compared to their more privileged peers.  Most of the students talked passionately about their annoyance for changing schools frequently.  The chief culprit for changing schools was not grade promotion, but the instability of their parent’s employment.  Their parents had to frequently change jobs, and therefore cities.  The students were unable to form long lasting social connections within their communities and their lack of access to expensive devices continuously prevents them from establishing and maintaining links with their peers.

The students at Breakthrough Cincinnati were as capable as any of the students I go to school with, yet it was difficult for them to find entry level jobs, like a cashier position at a local coffee shop.  Frequently, the hiring manager ended up employing someone they already knew.  Even the local business leaders I contacted to speak to the students for a weekly lecture were not aware of the local talent pool that they could tap into.

This was an eye-opening experience for me and I wanted to dig deeper into the subject, so I embarked on doing some research.  I went to a local library and did internet searches on the impact that technology has on human networking and connections. The research took me back in time to the eighteenth century, when the British created networks of roads to connect their citizens.  This effort, although well-meaning, and, on the surface, harmonizing, had exactly the opposite effect.  The rich chose to travel by carriages and the poor travelled by foot.  Society was divided into haves and have nots and my experience at Breakthrough Cincinnati allowed me to draw parallels between present day issues and the ones in eighteenth century.

Common wisdom suggests that technology brings people together, however, my experience supplemented with my research has led me believe differently. Uneven accessibility of technology can create wedges between different classes of people. Until and unless we lower the cost of information and technology, the students at Breakthrough will have a difficult time reaching their full potential.  When I look at my social group, the access to technology is a cheap commodity.  We never question it. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to even think that there are students that don’t have the basic technological necessities that are considered birth rights by privileged students.  In the future, I hope to spend more time at Breakthrough and work with the counselors to find practical solutions for filling this gap of technology and resources.

 

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