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?