Steve Means' practical experience with the cooperative learning endeavor is instructive as to its failings, pitfalls and limitations.
I wonder why there is such an emphasis on trying to find alternative means of educating our youth. I do understand that test scores appear to have declined over the recent years and that education and its perceived deficiences have been viewed as a growing problem ever since the "sputnick" generation grew up. But is this because teaching methods which once clearly worked no longer have any efficacy in terms of todays youth?
I think not. While I do believe in evolution, I truly doubt that over the past 20 years the human species has changed so much that babies born in that time frame have had their genetics "altered" in such a fashion that they are not susceptible to being taught in ways that worked so well with previous generations.
Efforts at multi-media (recently expressed in one recent m mail that I saw) and cooperative learning all seem attempts to "grasp" at ways of avoiding the obvious; children are not learning because (1) mass media and its messages do not encourage/"tout" the mental skills which are essential to the educational edeavor (2) parents, increasingly busy and perhaps focused upon their own gratification (I actually once had a friend relate to me that "you can't let them control your life") don't take as seriously the role of parenting as, I believe, earlier generations of parents did (3) other things that probably occur to many of you, NONE of which have anything to do with a recent change in human genetics which would make so-called outmoded "traditional" educational methods no longer viable.
In the recent past I have been amused when people have talked of the way in which computers would revolutionize education. True, they can be a wonderful tool. But they cannot substitute for the central role of a series of gifted and devoted teachers, throughout the early, developing lives of our children, in imparting the basic intellectual skills and mental outlooks to make "tools" such as computers, helpful adjuncts to the educational process.
If children are pretty much the same now as they were "then" (i.e. when education seemed to be working in our society) then maybe we should examine the societal sources impacting negatively upon the formal educational process, rather than coming up with the latest educational "innovation" to handle the problem of greater number of youth seemingly impervious, or indifferent to, the educational endeavor,