The Borg Had It Right.
As a teacher specializing in creative strategies and process, I’m constantly surprised how many of my students have yet to appreciate the power and possibilities that comes with working collaboratively.
Even when I impress upon them that learning how to navigate the collaborative experience is key to their professional and creative development, they still exhale in loud sighs and beg to work independently, on top of it all they shun any feedback until they feel the work is, in their opinion, “ready” to show.
Hell, I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. I know that very specific kind of anxiety very well. In addition to everything else, I know that it is just an excuse we use because being able to take criticism is not a skill we teach kids to appreciate or seek out. But I also came around and embraced it and now train people in aspects of it.
When I ask my students why they hate working in teams they waste no time in complaining about bad chemistry or members who didn’t contribute would complain about the decisions being made.
I have to confess; I have to say up until now, I refused to do any group projects in my classes because I just didn’t have the energy to hear that collective “argh” followed by a stream of emails complaining about terrible group dynamics. I just gave up.
I kept things on the individual tip and tried to rationalize it by saying that students weren’t doing their best work when working in groups. I needed to redefine what I meant by “best work”.
It was true. They weren’t doing their best work. But I came to the realization that the crap work the students were producing wasn’t because they weren’t able to do better, but because they just didn’t know how to work in a group. Boom.
Now I need to come up with ways how I could make collaborative work a more central part of my instruction and simultaneously change my students tune. I mean, I was serious when I said that learning how to navigate the collaborative experience is key to our professional and creative development.
This is my current predicament.
I’ve got loads of team building exercises and workshop methodology bouncing around in my head, but I need to come up with how I can translate all that into meaningful and effective curriculum and lessons that lead to engaging projects.