Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Favorite comments of '09: VickyS and Obi-Wandreas the Funky Viking on cooperative learning

Re Cooperative learning?, Vicky S writes:

My son had a similar experience. In 5th grade math they did a lot of cooperative work, and this particular day he was appointed to give the group's answer. They haggled over the answer, and the kids insisted a wrong answer was right. My son knew the right answer so he stood up and reported the right answer. He was given a poor grade because he did not present the group answer. When challenged, the teacher said my son failed to convince the group of the rightness of his answer, so failed in that way as well.

And Obi-Wandreas the Funky Viking writes:

This has indeed been a very valuable teaching experience for your daughter. She has learned several crucial life lessons, including:

1) Who you can, and can't trust

2) What happens when responsibility for your success is placed in hands other than your own, and you sacrifice your individuality for a group

3) The difference between theory and practice

4) How not to run a lesson.

1 comment:

Kennic said...

I told this story to my son, who is now in college, and surprisingly his sympathies were with the institution. He said that he works in groups a lot, and it is important to convince the group of the right answer. He, though, is a junior Engineering major. By the time you are at that level, and in the work place, it becomes more important to be able to work in groups and deal with group dynamics. But he is an adult dealing with other adults, who are there by choice, who are interested in the outcome of the project for its own sake (as well as their grades). I think his sympathies would be much different back at that age had this happened to him.

The problem, it seems, is that a good thing in one situation, such as adults in the work place, somehow becomes a necessary and good thing in all situations, as if 10 year olds there without choice should be expected to behave as adults would. Critical thinking is good, but now it is the be all and end all of everything, even math, before they have the background to be critical. Writing is good, but now it has to be in everything, like writing how you come up with an answer before writing is easy. Creativity is good, but now it has to be everywhere always in all outputs, whether appropriate or not. Too much of a good thing it the wrong places at the wrong time is not always a good thing. Like taking too much of some medicine.