At a recent meeting filled with many of the best minds in child psychiatry, psychology and education, an esteemed colleague revisited the model of child-centered practice in these fields. While everyone nodded knowingly, I left the meeting wondering: why is this model so hard to find? A large and growing body of data shows that student outcomes are almost always better when professionals work together. How can we model collaboration for our children who visit The Meeting House each week, and encourage parents to do the same at home?
By definition, collaboration is simply teamwork taken to a higher level. It is the idea that as a group, or in partnership, we accomplish more than when we act alone. Collaboration helps us clarify our ideas and encourages, even sparks, new ones. People report feeling valued when they work collaboratively. Offering different perspectives on the same subject can also broaden our point of view.
Could it be that competition, the opposite of collaboration, prevents more widespread use of the child-centered model? Competition has its important place in achievement, development and innovation. Is it possible for both behaviors to peacefully coexist?
A favorite saying of mine is “Sometimes all things are true.” At The Meeting House, we provide our students with opportunities for group projects as well as activities that foster competition. Both are extremely educational and formative. By practicing sharing ideas and working toward a common goal in our programs, our students become better prepared for group work at school. At the same time, many of the games we play at The Meeting House help students learn to compete amicably and to master the art of winning and losing. Perhaps one of the most important lessons in self-regulation is learning that you can be okay even if you lose. For many children, moderating and handling the frustration that comes with losing is a huge achievement.
Returning to the adage, “children learn what they live,” can the team of professionals that work with each child both inside and outside TMH agree that we can move forward more effectively if we team up and collaborate? Can parents and schools communicate hand in hand? At home, can parents model the art of family decision making from the perspective of what is best for the group as well?
Together we can ensure our students have all the tools and support they need to succeed and reach their potential. By practicing collaboration ourselves, we model the valuable skills that we endeavor to teach our children at home, at school, and here at the Meeting House.
Best wishes for a fabulous 2017,