Essential to Reform : Cooperation/Collaboration

In addition to the word communication, we really need to consider some other very important “C” words — collaboration and cooperation — which both mean the same thing, “to work together.” Those in education circles tend to use the word “collaboration” which can also mean “working with the enemy.” And I think most of us regular folks use the word “cooperation” more often and it also has an expanded meaning, “to combine so as to produce an effect.”

Right now, our differences divide us. We can’t work together when we continue to allow barriers to stop our progress.

Anyway you look at it, working together is a proposition easier said than done probably because the basis of it goes back to communications. We struggle because of differences in our use of words, the way we interpret words, how we relate them to our experiences, our body language or lack thereof in cyberspace, and a whole host of other communications related problems. Many of these things could be clarified if we would just ask questions and converse more often.

We have to remember, it isn’t about us; it’s about them. Real education reform will only happen when we work together to do what’s best for our kids. That is the page to start on.

An Instrument of Reform: Communications

People can be an amazing source of information and inspiration. And there is something to be said for the old saying, “two heads are better than one.” But it only rings true when the two heads are able to communicate. After all, communicating is referred to as the science of transmitting information.

Communications is a much more complicated process than most of us tend to realize and I’m afraid we are so busy that miscommunications are occurring more than we recognize. It took observing children and seeing their perplexed looks over something misunderstood to draw my attention to the topic. And the difficulty of communicating became crystal clear when I took to writing and began questioning how my words would be interpreted.

So when we begin to look at school improvements, or education reform, we need desperately to learn to communicate better with each other. We not only need to share our knowledge and perspectives with others but we have to use each others’ input to solve problems — that’s a lot of communicating! It’s a big quagmire where many an education reform has gotten sucked in and died.

Until education reformists learn and practice the art of effective communications, we will continue to stumble where reform is needed most. Schools with large concentrations of poverty don’t tend to have many people considered “influential.” As individuals, they aren’t heard. So more often than not, group action is required.

We all have to be able to communicate – with each other and the influential – to be effective.