Principals Pen Wednesday, 15 Aug 2018

In Living Faith’s ‘Beliefs about Learning’ we say that, amongst other things, we strive for our students to be effective collaborators.

It’s well documented that, more than any formal qualification, collaboration is one of several soft skills sought-after by employers. By instilling deep collaboration skills in learners at a young age, they are better equipped to thrive later in life.

But collaboration is not just about preparing children for the future, it’s also increasingly documented that collaboration helps learners to thrive. Watch this 90-second grab to learn more about why learning must come from a social context.

Collaboration can often mistakenly be interpreted as a contemporary way of saying ‘group work’. Group work typically involves working with others, often with the purpose of completing a specific task. Collaboration, however, is like group work on steroids.

When people collaborate they give and they receive, they prop up and they lean, they teach and they learn.

Collaborators invest time in mentoring their peers. They contribute to the learning of others. They don’t just bounce ideas off each other; they build upon each other’s ideas. No one ‘carries the can’, but everyone is fully invested in using their gifts to drive a shared vision.

Rather than focussing on weaknesses amongst peers, collaborators focus on each other’s strengths knowing that, as one’s own strengths become even more refined, weaknesses catch up. Additionally, genuine collaboration will see the weakness in one person constructively stimulated when that very weakness is viewed as a strength in a peer. Collaborators are certainly not superchickens. (Not sure what a superchicken is? Find out here!)

With genuine collaboration, students become more interactive, innovative and interdependent.

Collaboration doesn’t come naturally; it requires persistence. In the same way that we fall on multiple occasions before we walk and in the same way that mistakes are an essential element to academic learning; it is to be expected that budding collaborators will make mistakes through experience. But we know that children need to journey through these mistakes and experiences – and their natural consequences – in order to learn and grow. Mark Twain wrote, ‘If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.’ And so we excitedly start the journey young.

Collaboration. This is what we want for our students. This is what we want for your child.

- Jane Mueller