Here’s a question for teachers and learners as well as their parents, politicians and principals:
So, how do you simultaneously:
- increase social skills, cooperation and caring, personal interaction and listening skills, suitable verbal expression and body language awareness?
- instil manners, respect and self-respect, personal responsibility and integrity?
- engage every individual learner’s academic needs at a suitable level, including the timid girl in the corner?
- ensure equal participation and full accountability, without fights over teacher attention?
- give the kids free rein, while maintaining overview and control?
- and, oh, yes, teach whatever actual subject is supposedly being taught?
All in one package? All at the same time?
And get the learners to like it, too?
Well, Cooperative Learning, of course.
Backtrack to Copenhagen, 2006:
There I was in one of the inner city primary to mid-secondary level private schools, dishing out English verb forms to the immigrant community’s disenfranchised kids.
The drill down this hole is well-known: socioeconomic issues, cultural alienation, identity and social skills challenges, lack of primary language proficiency. Especially English grades were miles under the infamous stats.
After some research I convinced my Principal to re-school myself and a few other key teachers in Cooperative Learning, which had just recently come to Denmark.
Turns out CL was a cornucopia that in a few weeks completely changed the lives for me and my learners and every new idea brought a hailstorm of others, as more and more tools got pulled into the fray – digital flashcards, social media teaching tools, talking dice, you name it, as well as week-long project courses integrating rows of Cooperative Learning Interaction Patterns.
I owe a lot to the kids at Sjællands Privatskole, but it’s been a steep learning curve, and I want some of that work to benefit others.
So part of what I am hoping to do here is to share some of the practical tools developed over the years, as well as some thoughts on the multiple aspects of CL as a theory – Cooperative Learning is not without pitfalls and critics, and rightly so.
If I find the time, I would love to for us to delve into present and future possibilities of Cooperative Learning. In my experience, CL deals with a host issues facing education today – and anyone interested in the future of the human race needs to be seriously interested in education and in education policy. Check out some thoughts on the fall-out of Cooperative Learning on the corporate world in the link below.
All in good time. We’ll get back to everything from Vygotsky and the Social Constructivists vs. the Chicago School of Economics, Social Interdependence and Cognitive Developmental Theory, Jigsaw Puzzles and Kagan, Johnson & Johnson, et. al.
As it stands, I aim to regularly upload some of the practical CL material developed over the years, ready for instant implementation. Regularity and format, Twitter, newsletter, etc still pending.
Dear reader, I hope you benefit from the material, please bid in with input and links.
- How Cooperative Learning Yesterday Leads to Democratic Workplaces Today (dreamhost.com) by Ed Wesley.