A New Culture of Learning
Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change
Learning in the Collective
I love the line "In a collective, people belong in order to learn" (52). This really emphasizes the importance of community in the classroom. In order for learning to take place, all students need to feel as though they are a valued part of the whole. Learning comes as a result of participation in the collective. We need to ensure that our students feel as though they are a part of our classroom collective, which will spark their willingness to try, explore, and to truly learn.
How do we develop a classroom collective that centers around interaction and group work, and that remains focused and on task at the same time?
At the middle school where I student teach, group work is a daily activity. I have observed several math classes (6th - 8th grade) where students work together with their table group to solve problems. The students each have a role, and they all contribute to the common goal of the collective. The students then come together as a class and share the steps they took to solve the problem. Instead of the teacher asking guiding questions, the students facilitate and participation in the discussion themselves. I was so pleased to hear students ask things, like:
"What if you tried _______?"
"How did you reach that conclusion?"
"What do you think you could do instead of ______?"
These classrooms were true collectives. The students were the ones speaking while the teacher observed and facilitated only when necessary. The student-directed learning was made possible because there was such a strong classroom collective. I want my own classroom to be the same.
Learning is a journey that we take with our students - together. In order to depart on this journey, students need to trust us and each other. We have to build a sense of community - build that trust - from the very beginning. Without it, we cannot have the classroom collective that is conducive to the success of all our students.