Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much

by | Apr 29, 2022

It’s a very different world since the dramatic life-altering sweep of the last few years. But even before the global transformation brought on by the pandemic, it was very different from the world I experienced as a pupil. From as early as the age of seven, I was aware that education’s driving force was to encourage independent hard work, leading to the highest achievement in personal academic attainment. The ensuing qualifications would guarantee employment, ensuring my secure financial future and culminating in success and happiness. It was a clear path of progression. Qualifications were the passport to my future. Nothing seemed at all elusive.

Not so now. This is not the world that our seven-year-olds encounter. Nor are they guaranteed the bright and shiny future of which I was so assured. I had no sense of the fragility of life or the precariousness of the planet back then. When I was seven, the first images of ‘the pale blue dot’ were beamed into my living room, accompanied by such magnanimous words, pointing out the ‘giant leap for mankind.’ I vividly remember the excitement! We didn’t expect that this first step, and those first images, would dramatically reveal the dot’s avoidable decline, the ravaging of our planet, the enormous leap back from the ‘progress’ we thought we were making, conveying humanity’s position as infinitely small. That substantial collaborative effort to place one man’s boot on the face of the moon might be seen as the sparkling success that our current failures are continually contrasted against: “If we can send a man to the moon, then why can’t we …”

Well, why can’t we?

One reason might be that our education system has lost sight of the significance of collaboration.

This newest age presents our seven-year-olds with a myriad of challenges. In this vastly altered world, they will need to work out solutions to problems that I have no doubt my generation instigated. They must find new ways of tackling the issues which challenge our very existence – and they will have to work out new cultural and philosophical standpoints.

Today, children will not do this without some radical rethinking of the education system.

We have to transform the ‘selfish’ culture that continues to harm. We have to bring humanity to the classroom so that children feel heard, valued, and supported, but that they are inspired and excited by hope and the possibilities to change the world.

They need continual opportunities to put great minds together. Armstrong didn’t make that one step either for or by himself. Nor was the challenge easy. Kennedy stated they would go to the moon and try other tasks “not because they were easy, but because they were hard. Because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills.” And they weren’t just skills with engineering, rockets, and slide rules. In the words of Smithsonian Institution space scholar Roger Launius, the enormous task of collaboration “brought together aerospace companies, engineers, scientists, technicians, politicians and several NASA centres around the nation (and it) was a management challenge even more impressive than building the right type of rocket.”

And that kind of collaboration isn’t just about tackling enormous challenges either; working together gives our littlest humans opportunities to flourish beyond the bounds of subordinate clauses and algebraic equations and provides many benefits!

  • It gives them the chance to reflect, practice reverence for life, respect for each other, and connect as a human family.
  • It supports well-being and gives them hope. It offers them an opportunity to flourish beyond standard assessments.
  • It enables young minds to flourish truly! A flourishing person has positive emotions, engagement & interest, meaning & purpose, and positive relationships, strong self-esteem, optimism, resilience, vitality, and self-determination.

We should ask ourselves as teachers,

  • How will they flourish if we do not provide them with learning experiences that make connection and collaboration possible?
  • How can they deepen relationships between each other, teachers, and the larger world if we don’t teach creative problem-solving using real-world content?
  • How will they discover that there are multiple solutions to the problems we have created. They need to believe that anything is possible!

By turning the focus away from individual achievement, we can empower our children to find meaning and purpose as caring members of their community and as global dwellers. And much-needed by-products of that collaboration will be increased self-worth, more robust mental health, and growing optimism.

So, how can you create opportunities to deliver learning experiences that support and foster collaboration? The good news is, there are lots of ways to achieve this! The even better news is that LifeWise has done the heavy lifting for you.

LifeWise is the UK’s number one PSHE platform providing teachers with hundreds of fantastic collaborative activities in every lesson. We have made it our mission to ensure that children are better prepared for life by building up critical life skills, such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. LifeWise has also curated a series of ready-to-present interactive assemblies to introduce topics, such as collaboration, to the whole school in a fun and engaging way.

Access our free collaboration assembly here

Julie Chudleigh

About the Author

Julie continues to build on her relentless quest for innovative and impactful pedagogy and is motivated by growing knowledge of neuroscience and its impact on ways of learning. After 30 years in both the UK and schools around the globe, supporting inclusive, diverse learners and mentoring PGCE student teachers as a Headteacher, advisor and consultant, we’re absolutely thrilled to have Julie onboard.

She wholeheartedly supports the LifeWise mission to positively prepare children for life. Julie has been involved in opening trauma informed schools, classroom design and creating communication friendly spaces, growing student numbers, raising attainment. She is also a published author but ask her what her greatest accomplishments include and she’ll tell you the success of students thirty years down the line!

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