(in reply to this comment:) > >Collaborative learning skills need to be modelled to become effective, yet > >how many administrators run their schools or departments in a cooperative > >fashion? Very few meetings are run using collaborative techniques. >
That: > This is quite true, and there are times when I would like to see > administrators use collaborative techniques in meetings. But there are also > numerous times when I would just like to get some work done and not have to > worry about reaching a consensus. >
My comment: It might be that collaborative techniques followed by consensus are a good device for students' exploration of mathematical truth. This is a matter on which I am not prepared to give an opinion. However, the possibility of true consensus in questions like the answer to a mathematical question is quite good. People *can* be convinced by argument and reason, and the correct answer, since there is one, *can* be arrived at and made unanimous.
But 'arriving at consensus' at an administrative meeting is another matter. There may not be a true answer, only interests to be balanced. The proponents of 'participatory democracy' of the 1960s often used the drive to consensus as an intimidating device. The most famous example of consensus of that era was Mao's China and its cultural revolution, in which the degree of consensus was perfectly amazing.
One of the great philosophical works of the 19th Century was Robert's Rules of Order, which prescribes majorities, not consensus. Every democracy works by rules of this sort, while every tyranny works by consensus.
In having math students reach a consensus, the teacher should make sure that the decisions are not made by intimidation.