Learning and Collaboration

One day a salesman driving on a two-lane country road got stuck in the ditch. He asked a farmer for help. The farmer hitched up Elmo, the blind mule, to the salesman’s car. The farmer grabbed a switch, snapped it in the air, and yelled, “Go, Sam, go!” Nothing happened. He snapped it again. “Go, Jackson, go!” Still nothing. Then he flicked Elmo. “Go, Elmo, go!” And Elmo pulled the car out of the ditch.

“Hey, what’s with the ‘Sam’ and the ‘Jackson’?” asked the driver.

“Look, if he didn’t think he had any help, he wouldn’t even try!”

We all need help, and this is one reason that collaboration is far more effective in promoting learning than competition. Competition increases performance, but collaboration increases learning.