<<<He's hit the nail right on the head. At my scholl 100% of the grads atttend college, about 50% in state and 50% out of state, many at Ivy League colleges. With these motivated students, it really doesn't matter how I teach. I'm mainly concerned with making it as easy as possible for them to learn so they can take more courses.
I think we should go to work-study programs like the Germans so the students can see the payoff. If the kids were getting $100 a week for learning and being productive citizens, they would learn much more than "cooperative learning" could ever teach them>>>>
Businesses are screaming for employees who can both solve problems and workin a cooperative manner when they show up for employment. They are demanding that schools create team players for them as well as train students technically. They are making these demands because they do not yet use cooperation in their businesses. Many are trying to institute TQM/CQI but they have not quite got the hang of it, in part because they do not relagate authority to the teams. What better place than in school to inculcate young people with the appraoch of cooperative or group learning. Then when they went out into the work place they would understand the benefit and real motivating power of sharing responsibility and power when they became managers. They will not get that in a $100 a week job now. They will simply be told what to do and how to do it and if they have not worked cooperatively it won't even occur to them to make suggestions or try the trouble shooting tactics that companies wish to have in their employees. Kent seems to be very upset with the idea of cooperative learning. You make very disparaging remarks like the one above. I would think that working in the real world, as you suggest, and cooperative learning are not mutually exclusive but would make a great combination. As a matter of fact I heard a statistic at a recent school to work conference that 85% of high school studentsdo work at least part time during the school year or full time in the summer. So that part is being taken care of. Now who is going to help students learn to work together??
Kent's comment above about his teaching having little impact on good students is also a major misunderstanding of the nature of exceptional students. They are often overlooked because they do not cause trouble, they work as they should, do well on the SAT's and seem to require less resources that they lower level students. They also tend to be very independent and prefer to work alone unless provided they right environment. Even though they are going to competitive schools it would be very helpful for them to experience a cooperative learning/work experience. They will be expected to go out into the work place and function in teams and be helpful and coopertive also. If we only expect them to compete with each other for the best grades and best college entry it will be much harder for them to unlearn this approach later. As teachers we have a wonderful opportunity to facilitate this process rather than take a back seat and just let things happen. Imagine a situation where the resources of the top students could be put to use helping the lower level math students. The benefit would be mutual with the upper level student learning how to teach someone else and the tutee getting direct help from a peer, who might even be able to explain a concept better than the teacher since they understand the language of their peers better. Cooperative/group learning is a lifestyle not just a pedagogy. I wonder process is used at Kent's school among the faculty for decision making. Does the department chair mandate policies or or they developed cooperatively?? What is the institutions process for decision making? Answers to these questions might help me understand Kent's strong responses to the postings advocating the use of cooperative learning.