Collaboration or Cooperation
Collaboration is all the rage. I keep reading about how we need to be teaching collaboration to kids. For many, this means students working with other students in class to complete projects. For others, it means students talking to and working with their peers from other schools, communities, or countries to learn about another culture or solve a global problem. There are many great programs and projects that rise from the push for more collaboration.
The problem is, these cooperative projects don’t always rise to the level of collaboration. Collaboration requires people working with a shared vision towards a shared goal. For true collaboration to take place there must be a shared passion and a shared trust. This does not happen every time we work with other people, and that’s not a bad thing. I work with many people. I work productively and collegially with many people. I consider only a few of these people collaborators.
Cooperation is an important skill that all students must experience and grow comfortable with. We can ask kids to do this, we can teach kids to do this. We cannot force kids to collaborate as we cannot force adults or even ourselves to. Collaboration happens organically. It grows from working together, but it requires more. At best, we can only cultivate collaboration by nurturing environments that promote trust and passion.