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Topic: Co-operative learning
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Peter Gates

Posts: 4
Registered: 12/6/04
Co-operative learning
Posted: Jun 27, 1995 4:52 AM
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I hope you all don't mind a Brit joining the discussion!

I have only just joined the list so apologies if some of this has gone on
before! Perhaps due to culturo-linguistic differences it is not clear to me
what 'co-operative' group work looks like. Perhaps this does have a meaning
within the USA maths ed community. Is it the same as 'group work' eityher
way, this is certainly an issue for us here. I am a member of a team
working with beginning teachers of mathematics at secondary level. All of
our work is through collaborative group work. Our course only has about
three lectures all year - and these are in the first week - so everyone
forgets what they are about anyway!

However when our students go into schools - we see little if any
collaborative work in schools. (either students of practicing teachers)
There will be many factors in this - which will be familiar to most of you.
However Eileen Abrahamson mentioned something about learners learning to
sit back and be taught. Isn't this what Brousseau called the didactic
contract? What Mason calls the didactic tension, (and I am sure others have
called it different things. It is not just young children who do this, but
we all do it (wow - rash conjecture?!)

Guy Claxton wrote that "most current practice in schools and the way people
think about education is still based upon out-dated and innacurate views
about learning, whether derived from folk or formal sources. These ideas
buried in the minds of teacher,s parents and administrators limit what they
can conceive of and therfore constrain their sense if what is possible."
(Teaching to Learn)

There might be another source which is to do with the middle class
background of teachers. This brings with it certain visions of childhood,
authority and so on. It is my contention that collaborative work is a
left-wing agenda (Which being left wing I fully endorse. ) It is to do with
valuing and sharing, caring and emancipation. We have had in the UK yesrs
of a most extreme right wing government which has influenced very
subversively the ways of thinking of much of the population. We must
remenber also that universal schooling derived in the UK (and elsewhere?)
from a private system of education where education was ripped from the
community and family where it had been for many years. It was for the rich
and powerful. Current schools mirror this and as such are socilaising
children into a capitalist culture. To change this - I contend - we need to
move teachers to the left.

Might this have something to do with the lack of collaborative work?
Jjust a thought!


Peter Gates
School of Education
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD

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