Improv vs. Isolation in Education: Helping Teachers Build Bridges in the Classroom

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Take a look at this recent article about some surprising new research into who currently feels loneliest in our society:

Young Americans are the loneliest, surprising study from Cigna shows (USA Today)

Here's an excerpt:

Young people are far more likely than senior citizens to report being lonely and in poor health, a surprising survey of 20,000 Americans released Tuesday shows. 

The overall national loneliness score was alarmingly high at 44 on a 20-to-80 scale, but the prevalence of social isolation among those ages 18 to 22 raises even more concern. The younger people, part of Generation Z, had loneliness scores of about 48 compared with nearly 39 for those 72 and older. 

And note this, from a bit later in the article:

Isolation is of such concern that young people 16 to 24 who are neither employed nor in school are now tracked and classified as "disconnected youth."

I know this is the kind of survey that may raise more questions than it answers. And the fact that loneliness is self-reported leaves it open to the idea that maybe older people are just more stoic about their loneliness, or something.

But the fact that so many young people are feeling so socially isolated is still meaningful and problematic. And the fact that we even need to coin the term "disconnected youth" should be of concern to us all.

This is one of the reasons I believe so strongly in improv as an educational tool, and make it a central focus of my education presentations. It's also why I created my 3 Cs program, which trains teachers in ways they can use the tenets of improv to help break down the walls that keep students feeling isolated, and gives them specific improv-based exercises they can use in the classroom to build their students' communication and collaboration skills.

Done right, learning the skills and concepts of improv can give kids the tools they need to connect, collaborate, and communicate meaningfully with others throughout their lives — in a way that works as a powerful antidote to those feelings of isolation.