Islands in Education - MANCOSA


Islands in Education

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The African Proverb – “It takes a village to raise a child”, reigns true as it did back then. We all know and understand the value of this proverb but we as humanity have long shifted from this practice. The ideology of “SELF” having crept into our education system, seeping its way into our school structures and now parading itself in the classroom.

When did this idea of me, myself and I take root in our education communities? And more importantly how do we eradicate this mindset from our future generations. The practice of collaboration in teaching and learning is a fundamental 21st century skill, although most teachers rarely use this approach, many of us never extending this practice beyond our learners, to adopt this mentality in our own life-long learning journey.

Michael Niehoff expresses his thoughts on the matter in his article; 3 Ways to Model
Collaboration and Partnership in Schools and Classrooms –

“There may not be a skill that is getting more attention today than collaboration…It has even been identified as the most important professional skill in the new economy.”

Most of us have under-estimated the value of collaboration, therefore leaving our educational environments under-prepared and ill-equipped. When island inhabitants exclude themselves from the benefits of the “mainland” or other surrounding islands, local life
stagnates. As impactful 21st century educators we must be able to collaborate and partner
with others; share ideas, problem solve and learn from each other, propelling society onward and upward.

Alyssa Gregory states in 6 Reasons Collaboration Can Help You Grow Your Business.

“…every interaction you have with someone outside of your immediate circle can teach you something valuable. Some of the most successful collaborations involve two professionals who bring two very different skill sets, perspectives, and strengths to the table. When this happens, you are certain to be surrounded by learning opportunities.”

So why don’t schools and institutions see the potential of networking and collaboration in education? Cross-institutional cooperation and collaboration is of utmost importance as education communities extend beyond the walls of schools. The potential of a child that has had “cross-pollination” of teachers, schools and tertiary institutions is endless.

The importance of education shifting from the mindset of isolated classroom inhabitants to collaborative communities cannot be over-emphasized, as collaboration and partnering
between teachers, grade levels, school sectors and higher education brings a school
community flourishing to life.

We have to start the journey back to the personification of the “African Proverb”, this trek
back to community (COMMON UNITY) will bring about the much needed innovation,
creativity and critical thinking desired for our children, teachers and education communities in South Africa.

Change startsto happen when we are vulnerable enough to learn and unlearn, not just in the smallness of individual classrooms or schools but on the grand scale of governmental and tertiary education institutions.

MANCOSA School of Education has started the conversation as to how we will make the change from segregated systems to integrated collaborative education communities, crossing the hierarchy of institutions at the micro and macro levels from classrooms to higher education.

We see the shift that needs to take place in education from the “Isolated Islander” to
“Collaborative Communities” and understand the value of training agile teachers who imbibe the principle of UBUNTU- “I am because we are!”.