There are some subjects that lend themselves to free association more than others.? Tenure, for instance, is not one of those subjects, for me.? Collaboration, however, is. And if I let my mind wander too far, I'll end up singing Kumbaya.
And so I cringed when I spotted the headline over Randi Weingarten's ?column? (actually, a regular advertisement) in Sunday's New York Times, ?Collaboration Trumps Conflict.?? (You can read it on the AFT site.)
In my experience in schools, talk of?collaboration, like its step-sibling team player, is usually used as a decoy and when I hear the word I?instinctively ?adopt a 3-card monte defense: watch the cards, don't listen to the rap.? (This is a variation of ?trust, but verify.?)
?Sometimes it seems as though public education has become a contact sport,? writes Weingarten, ?with proponents of a take-no-prisoners style of `education reform' duking it out on talk shows and ever-present on the conference circuit.?
Watch the cards. Watch the cards.
Before anyone rushes to make collaboration the next silver bullet, it is crucial to note that this approach in and of itself does not create meaningful systemic change. Even with effective collaboration, which requires hard work, there also must be an instructional plan. When those two crucial pieces are in place, there is a growing body of evidence attesting to the power of collaboration to bring about significant educational improvements.?
Actually, that sounds nuanced, specific, promising. ?And she...