Say GROUP work one more time – I dare ya.

The job of schools, in my view is always to try and ensure students, who choose to open the door to their next adventure in life – do so to the best of their ability, regardless of what individuals believe. School leaders that run on FUD or my favourite “but when we did that at X, it didn’t work” – are just occupying chairs in my view and not worth spending time enlightening anymore. We’ve been at this ‘reform’ for at least a decade with technology and are fully aware of the new media literacies and other archetypes that put students in situations where they have to think, act and care about themselves and others.

In my ‘University’ life, it is so often apparent which students are not familiar with the work flows needed for ‘group’ work as they call it. It’s a key indicator of pre-teacher and in-service teacher mindset to me. As soon as I read, group work or hear it said in connection with learning … I know this person has – so far – been experiencing it as painful, irritating and frustrating. More often than not, they just want to do solo work – because it’s easier (in their mind).

If your child is saying “I’m doing group work” and winces if you then ask “Do you mean you’re collaborating in a group” … I’m pretty sure they will also respond with that ‘what are you on face?’. Those students who work in groups pervasively, will just nod in agreement. Collaboration in networks is fairly new, but why should collaboration (and the work flows needed to think, design and make) be new to first year University students? – Answer: They’ve been doing GROUP work and their schools have failed to recognise the difference.

The job of educators is to either open doors for students (school who help kids get to where they want to be) or to furnish the skills needed to do it themselves. When I read reflections about how difficult it was to work in a group on an assignment at Uni, I return to the obvious fact that those schools who base their ethos on communication, collaboration and inquiry (regardless of the toolset) must also provide workflows (human and technological) to overcome conflict and sulking over who’s opinion is the right one.

Collaborative projects only work if students also learn the importance of listening to understand and not listening to reply – and I think some ‘leader-populars’ on social media might revise their concepts of ‘group’ accordingly.

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