Independent Learning is Out – Group Think is In

On the lists of “What’s in / What’s out” that I saw at the end of the year, education trends seems to be consistently missing. One trend in particular, group learning, was conspicuously absent.

From Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” in her op-ed The Rise of the New Groupthink:

Our schools have also been transformed by the New Groupthink. Today, elementary school classrooms are commonly arranged in pods of desks, the better to foster group learning. Even subjects like math and creative writing are often taught as committee projects. In one fourth-grade classroom I visited in New York City, students engaged in group work were forbidden to ask a question unless every member of the group had the very same question.

I’ve seen this trend in play in my children’s schools – our teachers and administrators even argue that Groupthink provides superior learning results than individual learning.  I beg to differ, as do the researchers , psychologists, and artists cited by Ms Cain in her article.  As Ms Cain states, some of the “most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted”.

In education so often we hear about the desire for balance.  Certainly with today’s workplace people need to be able to work effectively in teams, but they also need to be able to hold up their part of the workload.  But if our children spend most of their day working in groups, how is he / she learning how to work independently? Where’s the balance?

 

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4 Responses to “Independent Learning is Out – Group Think is In”

  1. Citizen Tom Says:

    Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    One thing I like to do is define my terms.

    group·think
       [groop-thingk] noun
    1. the practice of approaching problems or issues as matters that are best dealt with by consensus of a group rather than by individuals acting independently; conformity.
    2. the lack of individual creativity, or of a sense of personal responsibility, that is sometimes characteristic of group intereaction.

    Obviously, the term groupthink has a bad connotation. However, Liberals and other big government folk want collectives. Collectives remove individual responsibility. In fact, as far as some are concerned, collectives have the virtue of making somebody else responsible.

    So why would there be a disproportionate push for collectives. Because we form collectives out of necessity, to get things done that one person cannot do alone, we have to have collectives. Thus, the virtue of collectives is obvious. Moreover, the people who head collectives have both the incentive and the resources to laud the virtues of collectives. The introverts who enjoy working quietly by themselves, on the other hand, have little incentive and no resources to praise the virtues of solitude. At best, someone might write an article or pen a song and speak of alone with their thoughts. Yet rarely will anyone speak well of that experience.

    Therefore, accountants will praise the cost savings of open-plan offices, and collective officials (both government and corporate) will praise conformity, realizing if they are ever to exercise full control, they need as their subjects the most subservient of conformists.

  2. Independent Learning is Out – Group Think is In | Citizen Tom Says:

    [...] in pods of desks, the better to foster … Just a few comments on this great post (See Independent Learning is Out – Group Think is In, the post mentioned [...]

  3. Peggy Broadbent Says:

    I agree completely that all children need to learn how to work independently. It doesn’t replace group learning but should at least be equally important.

    I’m retired now but taught for many years. In my combined first and second grade, Choice Time for children’s self-initiated learning was an important part of each day. Each of five learning centers provided activities and materials to nurture a child’s excitement about learning.
    Concrete experiences serve as a background for understandings in the world around them. These provided an extra basis for abstract thought that would be a benefit throughout all academic areas. (Choice Time is appropriate for younger and older children.) The materials in each center were enough to capture the interest of the very brightest students and yet still be appealing to slower or younger children.

    See my entries about the importance of providing a Choice Time for all young students:

    http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=Choice+TIme+for+First+and+Second+Grade

    http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=Opportunities+for+Cognitive+Growth+During+Choice+Time

    See my entries about the importance of providing a Choice Time for all young students:

    http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=Choice+TIme+for+First+and+Second+Grade

    http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=Opportunities+for+Cognitive+Growth+During+Choice+Time

    background for understandings in the world around them. These provided an extra basis for abstract thought that would be a benefit throughout all academic areas. (Choice Time is appropriate for younger and older children.) The materials in each center were enough to capture the interest of the very brightest students and yet still be appealing to slower or younger children.
    See my entries about the importance of providing a Choice Time for all young students:

    http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=Choice+TIme+for+First+and+Second+Grade

    http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/index.php?s=Opportunities+for+Cognitive+Growth+During+Choice+Time

  4. CITIZEN TOM LISTS THE BEST OF 2012 | Citizen Tom Says:

    [...] Independent Learning is Out – Group Think is In from PWC Education Reform Blog: Do our schools discourage individuality? [...]


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