Focus on Collaboration to Help Students Succeed

Collaboration is the key to lifelong success. In fact, if we want our children to succeed in school and later in life, we need to shift our mindset in how we educate them.

Knowing this, here’s an important message for both parents and teachers: Just taking in information is not learning. Retention requires review, reflection, and (with a skill) practice. Force-feeding students more and more information at younger and younger ages is not the answer. Rather, we need to focus on understanding, mastery, and most important, collaboration.

Why is Collaboration so Important for Learning?

Outside of schooling, the importance of teamwork is absolute because people work collaboratively.

It is ironic that in schools the emphasis is on performance of the individual and includes activities such as ranking. In a sense, in order to win at learning, someone has to lose; such is the nature of competition.

We are taught to compete from our earliest days, and we believe that we must compete to succeed. We are told that competition is part of human nature, that it brings out the best in us, that it’s for fun (for the winners) and builds character (for the losers).

There is no doubt that competition improves performance. I play a type of Great Highland Bagpipe music referred to as Pibroch (English spelling) that only about eight percent of pipers play. There is no doubt that I would not have put hours (my wife says, “years”) into this type of music without the underlying competition. While it was nice to win a few medals, the topic here is about promoting LEARNING. Learning and winning are two different things.

In life outside of schooling, working with others is what really matters, especially when it comes to productivity. I am still optimistic that educators will one day realize that although COMPETITION IMPROVES PERFORMANCE, when it comes to LEARNING, COLLABORATION is significantly more effective.

Tip: When teaching students, focus on making the lesson or assignment collaborative. The more collaboration you can bring into the classroom, the more equipped your student will be for life outside of the classroom.


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