This concept of co-operative learning and the effects on the 21st century ‘drove me to blog”…21st century?? Maybe we should call it “Early 21st century” as we have only just entered this timeline and the changes in our students learning environments are prodigious. The theories, techniques and methods of Co-operative Learning may have been here a while but the tools , the content, the resources in our classrooms particularly, technology have “turned learning environments” to a newer level.
“Co-operative learning itself is being re-shaped for the 21st century,
While we may explore methods such as the Student Team Learning or Teams-Games-Tournament or Peer Assisted Learning Strategies and others, the key is that it must contain “group goals” and “individual accountability” (Slavin) .
Requesting students to cooperate, that is to work together for a common goal, in something that they are not motivated in, or place them in in a group that lacks social cohesion is an irresponsible and negligent way to teach.
If we profess to teach in the 21st century then we need to do that…teach in the 21st century. You often hear teachers explain that they are not the “fountain of knowledge for their students” yet so often the classroom learning environment and curriculum tasks reflect otherwise. Clinically aligned rows of desks (which have their place in some lessons and for some students) and set individual, repetitive tasks often and continuously, even it this 21st century, reflects that the only source of knowledge is the teacher and the individual to themselves.
We still have 87 years in this century, which arguably determines that we have to rethink and reassess our current learning environments. Our students have more to offer and a 21st century classroom should give them the opportunities to show their teachers, their peers, and most importantly, to demonstrate to themselves that they are thinkers, creators and designers. Imagine co-operative classes full of these students helping each other, with:
- a set goal,
- set accountability, and
- ever changing 21st century technology..
we will need “knowledge banks” to store our educational wealth!