We have all heard the saying “two heads are greater than one,” but what about five, six or seven?
In America, a huge emphasis in education is placed on the concept of “ME.” How can MY child place first, score in the top tenth percentile, or make the cut for the Varsity League? A huge amount of energy goes into ensuring that our children not only give 100% but are given 100% by those coaching, mentoring or teaching them.
As parents, we do everything within our power to prioritize our child’s academic success. This mentality is of course necessary, especially given the highly competitive nature that floods our children today. Is your High Schooler struggling to score above a 1500 for the SAT? No problem, hire a tutor to enhance his/her English and Science skills. A tutor can easily get your child where he/she needs to be.
There is no argument that one-on-one instruction opens up academic doors for everyone. But I believe there is an additional way: another way to hone in on your child’s scholastic development, academic confidence and enthusiasm for learning. That way is referred to as Pair and Small Group Learning, and is steadily becoming more and more recognized in the world of education.
So what exactly makes small group learning effective?
“ME” can be isolating:
For starters, some students are overwhelmed by participation in large group environments at school. Over time, this creates a sense of inadequacy that can prove to be detrimental. Break down the atmospheric barrier, and you have an environment that allows teachers to more easily include all students while offering students more confidence to connect with teachers and peers. Small groups mean spending less time with our heads down and more time receiving the guidance and motivation needed to participate.
High standard for Accountability:
Students are expected to be active learners within a pair or small group setting. They must take ownership of the material at hand and share a common purpose and goal. Interdependence is a significant component when learning with a partner or small group. If the actions of one or two group members fail to contribute to the group, then all members of the group can be adversely affected.
Learning to connect with peers can prove to be a daunting task for some students, especially those who may be hardwired to learn independently. For these students being “WE” instead of “ME” means stretching their social comfort zone. Social competence has a huge impact on the trajectory of one’s future. Skills such as cooperating, having fun together and managing age-appropriate challenges are all pivotal to your child’s confidence and development.
One special feature of learning as “WE” instead of “ME” is affiliating with others who share similar or dissimilar characteristics. Being exposed to one’s values, attitudes, religious beliefs and culture, may all be vastly unfamiliar to group members. It means being able to share commonalities or likewise learning to be open-minded to new ways of thinking. It takes extensive self-control and personal desire to explore and share new ideas.
Collaboration is key:
Remember those highly successful people I mentioned, one thing they all have in common is their understanding that “two heads is better than one.” “WE” can learn more, and achieve more goals when we work as a collaborative unit. Where “ME” can sometimes yield limitations, “WE” can mean new insight in a world of vastly fierce competition; problem solving, critical thinking, conflict resolution, public speaking, communication, providing feedback and receiving feedback are all characteristics that drive success. In other words, to be the best version of yourself, you have to let others in and learn how to relinquish control when it’s appropriate and acknowledge when someone’s strengths fulfill your weaknesses.
Michael Jordan once said, “talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” It is so true. Learning how to work together, succeed, and fail together may be one of the most significant features of highly successful people. In a world focused on “ME,” It’s important to recognize the value of “WE.”
By: Whitney Skokos
Experienced in all facets of early childhood development, Whitney has served
as teacher, consultant and director in the private education industry. She grew
up in the Eastside and continues to be a part of the community with her husband
raising their son. Whitney’s genuine passion for children and superlative ability
to communicate with families has made a positive difference in the lives of those
she has served.
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