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How To Manage 2 Important Cs Of Education – Competition and Collaboration

There is an age-old saying that “Two heads are better than one”! This should be practised in today’s time too so that children can understand the importance of collaboration and also know that there is a very thin line between competition and collaboration.

We all are aware that the human species is competitive in nature. We have been and will always compete for everything, be it food, marks, achievements, or even chocolates! But, at the same time, we are also great collaborators. Teamwork can be seen in sports, presentations and even in learning. We all should aim for all the goodness that competition and collaboration can bring together and minimize the negative effects.

With competition, the challenge is that students like to win and tend to go overboard in achieving that. But that shouldn’t mean that we exclude competition completely. There should always be a healthy blend of collaboration and competition. We know that competition makes students anxious and tends to hamper their concentration. The competition also often restricts them from learning from one another. Most of the time when a child concentrates on rewards, he/she becomes less invested in the task and their performance declines.

Competition is fundamental to human nature and drives us to strive for better results. We should teach students to view and respond to competition in a positive way, instead of it having a negative effect on them. The only way we achieve this is by presenting collaboration as a competitive advantage! Collaborative learning is said to promote a higher level of thinking and information is preserved for a longer period of time.

By establishing clear group goals as well as individual accountability, collaborative learning can play an important role and it helps in keeping the group focussed on the task.

We often think that the students should collaborate so that they can learn together. But, if the task is too simple to complete alone, collaborating will not help them. Collaboration is rewarding when children think that the task is too complex to be solved alone and has many pieces to it. Complex activities are challenging, stimulating and engaging and it requires teamwork and knowledge sharing. In such cases, children should identify the problem and through research and discussion come to a solution which must be then put forward together.

Teachers should aim at creating a collaborative learning atmosphere for children, as it will help them build confidence as learners and discover that the sky is their limit. Through this, they will also rely on all the children in the class and not just their friends. This will make them go to each other for help first rather than reaching out to adults. This will eventually help them become independent and find solutions to their problems. Here, teachers should also make sure that collaboration doesn’t cause any negative impact on the students’ mind and they don’t see it as competition.

Getting along and engaging with others is the building block of many situations in life and everyone should learn how to give and take, share, play to their strengths and draw in other people to fill the gaps. It is a very important social skill and shouldn’t be treated as a competition. It is a very important skill that will be helpful throughout life and will also help build relationships, be it with family, friends, colleagues or even clients.

Sometimes while working together, students complain about collaborative groups, this often has to do with free-riding of one member who lets others do all the work and then eventually benefits from the group grade. Freeriding can be eliminated by creating small groups of not more than four to five people so that non-participation becomes difficult and individual contribution can be monitored too.

We often see that various projects are based on efficiency to create a product in the most efficient way. This means that we often ignore the process of collaboration. Discussions help students share their experience and promote consensus which is important to collaboration.

Written By,
JBCN International School, Chembur

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