From Competition to Collaboration

Competition can have detrimental effects to our individual and collective physical, mental and spiritual health, not to mention the impact it can have on sustainability, peace and justice.  In the school context, competition takes the form of high stakes testing, drugs (either calm kids down to sit in class or hype them up to study more), regular cramming, cheating, labeling (winners and losers), amongst others.  Around the world, we can see many businesses and governments that have been eroded by corruption - all within a competitive paradigm for either market share or political power.  Although there may be healthy, motivating forms of competition, such as competing against yourself to improve your own performance, overwhelmingly competition and the win-lose binary, can have negative effects in many spheres of life.  Now more than ever we need a paradigm shift from competition to collaboration.

If we stop and think about our lives, we can see how collaboration runs through it.  Just consider how we come into the world as little babies, we rely on collaboration for survival.  We learn, grow and develop in collaboration with others.  When we take an intentionally collaborative approach to life, reaching out with openness and building relationships with others wholeheartedly, we grow more as individuals through this process.   One of the paramount issues we face today is that we build artificial borders between us and don’t try to understand one another.  When we can harness our collective power through collaboration we can face our shared challenges with greater creativity and ingenuity.  By reinventing our schools, shifting our paradigm from competition to collaboration, recognizing that teaching and learning are essentially a collaborative social process, we can lay the groundwork for a more collaborative society that heralds active participation in a deliberative democracy based ethical decision-making about our common well-being.   
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To transform education in order to move humanity forward to face the challenges of the 21st century, increasingly globalized world in a collaborative, creative, critical, connected and caring way.

The founder and primary contributor to Education for Contemporary Times is Sarah O. Weiler, long-time educator with a M.A. in Global Education from the University of Illinois and a M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Education at the prestigious Institute of Education at the University of London in the UK.
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