The EU as a Collaborative Classroom

The responsibility to teach our young children the value of strong relationships, of teamwork, of mutual benefit and sharing initially lies with our parents. We share our toys and our cake, we work together to build sandcastles and we learn the value of friendship.

This continues into our education; guided by a qualified teacher, today’s pupils use mobile devices to work together, they sit around tables, interacting with technology and each other as active participants in learning. They engage with each other to deliver results which are better than if they’d worked in isolation, as passive listeners or outside onlookers.

We move through the next stages – traditionally SATs, GCSEs and A-Levels – all the time we gain a better understanding of the world around us. This time built with our experiences, more than what we’re advised by our elders.

The tone then begins to change – we start competing for university places, and after we reach our final stage of academia, we hit the world of work into what is a competitive jobs market. Our jobs usually involve being better than our equivalent companies in our competitive marketplace. We aim to be a cut above the rest. We want our sandcastle to be the biggest and the best.

With the rise of academies, similar themes are entering our education system.

The collaborative system of Local Authorities championed the idea that schools work together on a regional basis. By pooling resources and sharing expertise, an LA can improve educational outcomes.

The tone is beginning to change – academies adopt a more commercial outlook, and although they cooperate within themselves as Academy Trusts, there’s a stronger element of competition with each other. The idea being of course that the desire to exceed historical standards, and to exceed each other, improves outcomes. Perhaps it does – but at what cost to collaboration?

So the 27 remaining EU countries – an uncanny number given the size of an average classroom – still retain their status as formal collaborators. They’ll continue to sit down around a table, share experiences, resources and expertise. Continue to learn together and help each other develop.

It could be argued that the UK will soon become that outside onlooker. The pupil with their head down in a textbook. The pupil without the iPad and without the WiFi connection to the interactive touchscreen. The pupil unable to annotate on their fellow pupil’s work on the classroom display to suggest an improvement.

As they sit there minding their own business though, there remains enormous potential for a single mind. To build on their own knowledge and expertise using other resources – perhaps even beginning to compete with their colleagues at the other end of the classroom.

The question is given the option, would that be their choice? Will they be better off?

There’s one way to find out.


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