A Culture of Collaboration
Mr Geoff Lancaster | Principal | Grammar News | 31 July 2020
Over the last week I have had the opportunity to speak to Assemblies (mostly online) at both campuses as we begin Term 3’s learning focus on Reciprocity. It is a word you don’t hear often in common parlance but refers to the idea that we work together for mutual benefit. I used the example of a Whale Shark and Cleaner Fish to help students understand that even though we may have different roles and abilities, we can work together for the benefit of all.
Reciprocity ties in well with one of the 5 key cultural areas I mentioned last week - the Culture of Collaboration. This is working together to the benefit of all, with the potential to get a better outcome than if everyone was working independently.
A Culture of Collaboration
When I was at school I didn’t always enjoy doing group work. This is possibly the experience for many of us who were allocated to a group and expected to “collaborate” with little guidance as to how to do this effectively. I saw a meme on Facebook several years ago that had the quote “when I die, I want the people I did group projects with to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time.”
This may be our experience, but we also know that most of the greatest discoveries and innovations are found through collaboration - people working together to solve problems, bouncing ideas off each other, questioning and challenging each other, reaching out to experts. This is the type of collaboration we want to see at St Luke’s.
This idea of working in relationship with others links closely with The Golden Rule which I am sure many are familiar with. The version we know best is from the Bible in Luke 6:31- “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Many other cultures and traditions have a similar concept, for example the Ancient Egyptians version is "That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another." The idea being that we should treat others in a way that we want to be treated. As we collaborate, we need to do this with humility, taking turns, listening to others, valuing different viewpoints, giving feedback kindly, and asking questions to build on ideas.
Collaboration is one of the key terms used in discussions around Future-Focused learning. A few years ago I read the book “Open: How we'll work, live and learn in the future” by futurist David Price. The key idea in the book is that we should look at how people are learning outside of formal education and adjust the way learning happens if we want to re-engage learners and prepare students for a globally competitive working life. As an adult I know that much of my learning is by doing and then finding out information at the point of need, for example Googling how to decalcify the coffee machine when it stops working. Of course there may be significant prior understanding of “the basics” that enables me to leverage new ways of learning and ask the right questions. Additionally, to ask the right questions we also need to know where to go to find the best answers or help to solve the problems we are investigating.
During the COVID-19 closure last term, we all witnessed how quickly our students and staff adjusted to new methodologies and worked together to make Off-Campus learning a success. Effective collaboration skills will be essential for our students to thrive and remain agile as they tackle the range of issues they will no doubt encounter in the years ahead. With the right set of skills, such as the ability to collaborate well, these challenges will be much less daunting and our graduates will be able to approach them with enthusiasm and hope for a bright future.