Education has evolved from teaching the 3R’s to a more holistic 21st Century model. This includes the 4C’s of Learning and Innovation Skills: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration. Let’s look at collaboration in the lives of our teens.
Most of us benefit when we can work with others. The fun of creating with others enhances the process. The synergy of ideas and varied skills improves the product. This is definitely true for our social teens. At home, chores and family activities are less stressful when we find ways to make it a shared experience instead of one person’s responsibility.
In the school setting, collaboration is a powerful tool, when designed well. One of the top 20 private schools in the U.S. uses collaboration almost exclusively in all math classes and collaboration/discussion for all English classes. Discussions are student-directed; the teacher usually assumes the role of observer. College Prep in Oakland tells us, “When compared to more traditional methods where students passively receive information from a teacher, cooperative, problem-based learning has been shown to improve student engagement and retention of classroom material. Studies comparing cooperative, competitive, and individualistic efforts have found that cooperative learning methods improve students’ time on tasks and intrinsic motivation to learn, as well as students’ interpersonal relationships and expectations for success.”
Collaboration works. Why is it important? Because we want our teens to be empowered to do the critical thinking needed to solve big world issues and deal with the rapid changes facing them. Therefore, learning must evolve beyond the individualistic model of the 1900’s.
We need to expect collaboration in our classrooms and foster these opportunities in out-of-school activities, as well. We all need to help form collaborative adults ready to succeed in the 21st century!