You Matter

“You matter.”

Those words begin the first activity in my University of Cincinnati Diversity & Inclusion class. It’s the foundation of the course and it deserves focus, so students remember it.

In the activity, students pair up. They work from page 7 of the Syllabus, which contains 10 statements. The pairs alternate saying each statement to the other.

Muffled nervous laughter spreads across the classroom as they begin. Then, they relax into the rhythm and words of the call and response. By the end, the mood in the room has shifted, lifted. The students feel good and it shows on their faces.

These are the 10 statements:

You matter.

There has never been anyone like you on this planet.

We need you.

We need your thoughts and ideas.

We need your view of the world.

No one else here has had your experiences.

No one else can tell us what you see.

We need you to be here.

We need to hear from you.

You matter.

The pattern I described—nervousness relaxing into good feelings—didn’t happen with the Fall 2022 class. There was anxious laughter all the way through. They rushed through it to get through it. The mood in the room did not change.

I thought maybe I had set it up wrong. Maybe we should try it again. I asked the group to humor me.

It was even worse the second time.

On the drive home, I pondered the difference between this class and the three prior. As I was falling asleep, it hit me: the activity was too difficult. It cut too close to the bone of belief that they did not matter.

I decided to address the doubt of mattering casually. I slipped in one slide every week. All it said was, “You matter.” All I said was, “You matter. Still true.”

At the end of class, students complete a formal evaluation from the University and an informal evaluation from me. The University’s is lengthy. Mine has only three questions:

  1. What is one thing you liked about the course?
  2. What is one thing you learned in the course?
  3. What is one thing you want to remember from the course?

I shouldn’t have been surprised at the results, but I was. I had never seen this before. Several students said what they wanted to remember is that they matter.

For those students, for me, maybe for you, for all of us who tend to forget:

You matter.

Chewing the Cud of Good

"Greeting card that says: With freedom, books, flowers & the moon, who could not be happy." Oscar Wilde

Thankful for reminders.

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