Collaboration – Stop the Madness!

I just watched this video from RSA Animate about how old models of education fail today’s learners. It’s awesome to see ideas from research spring forth in a wonderfully engaging media format!

Much has been written on the the social/political priorities that have shaped American schooling (Grumet, 1988; Kliebard, 2004; Lortie, 1975). Schooling was rapidly expanded and made mandatory in post-Civil War America to shape a citizenry equipped to work in an Industrial Age. Social efficiency was the unifying value and school was meant to sort and then reinforce one’s position in the new post-agrarian economy. Ken Robinson’s suggestion that this value yet remains, as reflected in the relatively unchanged educational structures, is a shared belief among many educators, and one that I agree with. Though I’m not sure what to think of his ideas about ADHD diagnosis and how that relates to antiquated educational structures, I do agree that there is more to distract learners today. A model that likely felt constricting in an earlier era with fewer demands on time and attention has even less chance of feeling relevant today.

I love his extension of this observation with his reflections on collaboration and learning. When I think about persistence studies of adult learners there is much to suggest that cohort matters. Effective support provided by working in collaboration is important (Seversen et al. 1994); however, even more significant is the potential for learning in a Constructivist approach, where learners actively construct knowledge rather than passively receiving it (Cunningham & Duffy, 1996). Such an approach, whether in a classroom or an online learning environment is not so easily accomplished in what Lortie (1975) calls “egg carton” classrooms.

I’m going to share this video whenever I can!

Grumet. (1988). Pedagogy for patriarchy: the feminization of teaching. In Bitter Milk: Women and Teaching. Boston: University of Massechusetts Press.

Kliebard, H. (2004). The Struggle for the American Curriculum. The Struggle for the American Curriculum (Third.). New York: Routedge/Palmer.

Lortie, D. (1975). Schoolteacher: a sociological study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Severson, D., Helsing, D., Kegan, R., Broderick, M., & Portnow, K. (1994). The power of a cohort and of collaborative groups. Focus on Basics, 5(B), 15–22.

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