Sociologists, anthropologists and scores of human development experts have raised the question of nature verses nurture. Does the environment or the DNA determine the success or failure of a person? As it stands, growing up in Baltimore poses a myriad of challenges to speak to the variability of either position.
Could a social experiment offer insight if four families chose to swap their children? Not just any families, but two who share completely different socioeconomic statuses, parental paradigms, neighborhoods, diets and philosophies. Each family would agree to swap children for a weekend and two consecutive school days. During the swap, families are required to journal daily highlighting the initial introduction, meals, recreation and educational exchanges in and out of school and the return of the children.
How far would Baltimoreans go to authentically participate in this exchange? Would there be “deal-breaking” factors? If one family lives in a less than tidy community whose homes have been ravished by slum landlords failing to keep properties up to code coupled with polluted streets and alleys, would they be less likely to allow their children to switch places? If a community was completely homogenous in its demographic, would this contribute the willingness or opposition of a family to swap its children? What would be the ideal exchange to those who wish to participate and why?
There is only one way to truly appreciate the lives, challenges and successes of others and that is to spend unadulterated time living others’ lives. Could it be that we think one element of a person’s environment directly determines their educational, social and personal success or failure? If a FamilySwap was mandated for graduation, how many students and families would pass or fail? And for those who willingly participate, what profound effect would it have and how could the results contribute to living with more humanity and humility in Baltimore? Would you FamilySwap?