Mike's Notes: Collaboration - Beyond a Buzz Word

Posted by Mike Henriques


Last night I listened to students retelling Ocean Classroom stories from over a year ago. The stories about sea-sick watches, lost shoes, guarding against rats in port all came out in rapid fire and humorous bursts. But most fascinating to watch was the way they braided narrative together, the way the back and forth collaborative process played out as the memory of one teller stoked memory from another.

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Pieces snapped together and the collaborative process was revealed in micro moments. It felt spontaneous and unstructured (and was), but even the laughter built on laughter. It layered.

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In Chemistry, English, Physic – in all classes and activities - students huddle together, work together, solve together like never before. Collaboration is not just the buzzword, but also a proven way to deepen the learning process and the creative process. The dusty, romantic image of independence, of the solitary and competent intellectual drifter staking a claim and striking it rich in the metaphorical sense, slowly fades. We depend on each other a lot more than that image suggests.

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We scaffold ideas on top of ideas. We leverage. We are more connected than we might think, which can be both reassuring and a little rattling. Sometimes when I think about going it alone versus the collaborative process, I think about the toaster talk. This was a talk given a few years ago by the designer Thomas Thwaites titled “How I Built A Toaster from Scratch.” It’s an account of a long and humorous creative journey that makes one pause and appreciate all that emerges through collaboration. Even toasters. Even toast.


Collaboration isn’t anything new in education or in our day-to-day life, but what’s new is the way we are not overlooking it or taking it for granted. And what’s new is the way the romantic notion of singular genius diminishes.

Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below, and follow me on Twitter


Mike Henriques P'11, P'15

Proctor Academy Head of School 

Read more of Mike's blog posts here.


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