Location: Cheshire, Connecticut, United States

devilishly handsome, screamingly funny, overly modest

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Can You Collaborate?

For the last 2 weeks I've been reading some essays about collaborative methods in teaching, particularly teaching writing techniques. There has been a significant amount of research that has shown that people working in collaboration with their peers learn faster, more efficiently, and just plain better than those learning individually. Since this research has been done over a period of decades and the American system of education hasn't budged an inch in this direction we can conclude that either (1) the entrenched academic powers-that-be are stubbornly (or deliberately) ignorant of this research or (2) that they themselves don't or can't think collaborately. I spent 10 years sitting on a committee that reviewed educational grant proposals usually prepared by members of the upper echelon in the Connecticut state educational system and I can tell you from personal experience that these examples of abject arrogance couldn't have worked with Indira Gandhi or Henry Clay. Elitism abounds in the halls of academia and we need the equivalent of a palace coup to clean house and start over. Since educators are union protected and even the top echelons apparently can't be fired (and violence as social protest died after the '60s), we're stuck with this system permanently. I'm resigned, I wish they would too.

On a more positive note, one of the guys I've read (Bruffee) talked about an historic "human discourse", a conversation encompassing all human knowledge which has been going on internally and externally since the dawn of mankind. The idea is to tap into this through conversation and reflection and learn far more quickly than trying to learn by yourself. For me , this comes just in time. The world is producing things to learn faster than I can learn them and I'm falling further and further behind. A good example of this is my inability to cope with the advancing techniques of blogging. Maybe if this troglodite gets with other dinosaurs we can tap into a Bruffee-like discourse and save ourselves from drowning in the techno-ocean. I hope so, the tide's coming in.

Avast, see you....later.


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