How often do we wonder whether our kid has clearly understood the concept taught in school! Sometimes we even wonder whether our kid is a slow learner, whether he is being left out in the class. All these thoughts compel us to think that maybe the teacher is not able to pay attention to our child. Maybe it is such a large group that is why he is not able to stay focussed, maybe he feels underconfident amongst all the other bright students who are proactive and keep on answering in the class. This drives us to think that our child requires one on one coaching to understand the concepts and we seek out for such solo classes preferably. But let me ask a question right there; how do we know that this decision is correct, what if we have wrongly assessed the situation as a parent and have been unable to identify the actual problem.
Well, let me tell you that the solution to the above situation is toilsome but achievable. Let us begin by understanding the problem. Before that, we need to remember first that every child is different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to this. All thoughts expressed above are indeed thoughts of most of the anxious parents of today but the reasoning may not be true entirely. How do we prove that? Let us consider the first scenario that when our child is not able to perform well in class, we will indulge him in solo learning. Let us compare the advantages or rather the only advantage of solo learning to that of collaborative learning. We think that during solo learning, the child remains focussed and isn’t distracted at all as the teacher has 100% attention is on our child. (Although in the upcoming para, you will understand how untrue this is.) We also think that the child will understand better. Now, here is where we are making a mistake as a parent. Puzzled, right?
Let me elaborate this with an example straight from my class. There was a student whom I used to teach. His parents preferred solo learning so the child used to come for 1 hour-long class every alternate day. The classes went on as usual but somehow I could see that the child had a lot more potential. Something was missing, he lacked the drive to answer promptly. His overall performance improved but I wanted him to be more active and prompt in my class. All this was very difficult to convey to the parents but I told them that although their child’s performance is good but there is still scope for better. I asked them to agree for collaborative learning and try it out for the next semester that is 3 months. They agreed and to everyone’s surprise, there was a tremendous improvement in his performance in the final semester exams.
So what caused the change, the teacher was the same, teaching method was the same, the student was the same and his understanding of concepts too was the same. The only difference was the number of students in the class. Here we need to dive deeper into the child’s psychology. When there were more students, my student knew that his teacher’s attention is getting diverted to all the other students as well. Earlier his teacher would only ask questions to him, he may or may not choose to answer, but now she may ask the student who will raise his hand first or who is more prompt. This induced a sense of being active in a class all time. So here the attention of the child automatically improved. The next very significant development induced by collaborative learning is the sense of healthy competition. When all the students in the class have understood the concept, they fight to be on the top or to become the teacher’s favorite. This automatically enhances their learning skills. I would rather say that they get a boost in their self-confidence as well. Although there is a very thin line here which the teacher has to maintain between the students so that no one in the class feels undermined or overpowered by the others. It is the teacher’s sole duty to provide equal opportunity to all the students in the class. Once this is done, the class will run smoothly.
Another very important factor that solo learning can never provide but collaborative learning always enables without much effort is the power of being creative. When the child hears the answers of the other students, it urges him to think of some other solution, or in other terms, to become more creative. This again helps in the mental growth of the child. Collaborative learning will also help the child to be patient and wait for his turn to come, which solo learning has no means to provide. There are children who are always eager to answer all the questions, sometimes they don’t have the patience to even wait for the teacher to complete but when there is a small group of students, they learn to be more patient and more mannered. We all know that this will help in their mental and psychological growth in the long run.
With this, I think I have listed all the advantages of collaborative learning and how it is better than solo learning. Though I know that there must be still one question bothering us as parents, that is how is it possible for the teacher to pay individual attention to my child in a class of 50 students. I would say not to worry, I have a solution for that too. I have earlier also emphasized on this point that although collaborative learning is advantageous, the group has to be a small group of students. With a small group of 4-5 students, it becomes easier for the teacher to pay attention to all the students equally and nobody is lagging behind. We, at Lido learning, lay much emphasis on this concept that the class of students cannot be more than 6 students in total. Therefore, we try to achieve all the above-mentioned points stepwise through collaborative learning.