COLLABORATIVE LEARNING AND DEFYING THE MYTHS TRADITIONAL SUCCESS

Throughout the majority of our academic careers we are conditioned to equate good grades with success.  “Johnny studied hard.  Johnny earned an ‘A;’ therefore, Johnny will be successful.”  In academic environments, where teaching is predicated on homogeneous learning styles, this concept of success is troublesome for individuals with learning disabilities.  Students with learning disabilities are especially limited when other forms of teaching fail to be implemented.  Fortunately, traditional instruction is not the only avenue for pursuing knowledge.

It is important to realize that we are all operating within a massive human network and mutual communication is the key to unlocking understanding.  For scientists, this communication manifests itself in the iterative process of peer reviewing a colleague’s work.  For us, however, collaborative learning offers the opportunity to capitalize on our strengths and learn from our weaknesses.  After Landmark you will meet countless individuals, from all walks of life, who boast a wide range of competencies.  These people help shape your future which makes it imperative that they be success-driven.

In just the past year, I have been honored to learn alongside a Boston Marathon participant, and a twenty-three year old who contributes to the world renowned, Nature magazine.  Please note, that none of these individuals are pursing success in the traditional sense that we were taught through schooling.  Instead, they are pushing their physical and mental limits in hopes of gaining a better understanding of who they are and how their personal triumphs can be applied in the world.  By working alongside these types of people, we learn to apply ourselves in ways that promote our strengths and in doing so we can build our own road to success.  Make it a personal goal to gain understanding from these encounters by employing voracious curiosity to genuinely “learn outside the lines.”

Submitted by Spencer Smitherman, Landmark School ’08

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