I have been working on a group project for one of my classes this semester, and one of the topics that I have been researching as part of the project is the impact of creative activities on the field of education. As someone who used to strongly align themselves with traditional education views, I not only got a chance to see how those views have changed, but why they have changed, as well.
Proponents of progressive education believe strongly in having children work in groups on projects geared toward increasing the knowledge of the children on the subject matter of the project. Traditionalists believe that having children work on group work is promoting the ideals of socialism -the idea that everyone must work together for the common good of all. I used to believe as traditionalists do, and scoffed very loudly at the idea of the importance of children working on group projects – until I worked on this one. The fact is, I learned a lot from my group members about effective ways to work on a group project, especially since we were all taking the class online and none of us lived anywhere close to each other. Several of the group members had ideas about how we could each contribute to the project and how to make the project a success. It was a PowerPoint project, so it was important for each of us to have control of our contributions, as well as ensuring that each of our contributions were integrated into one cohesive project. If it weren’t for a few of the group members having knowledge of different programs that we could use to achieve this goal, I’m not sure that we could have done it.
Through this experience it became clear to me that allowing children to work together in groups doesn’t necessarily teach socialism. In this day and age, people’s knowledge and skill sets are highly specialized, and we may need to seek out someone with this specialized knowledge in order to accomplish a task. If we have never learned the skills necessary to do this sort of thing, then we may get left behind by our inability to accomplish as much as the next person. In order to be effective and productive, we need to be able to network with others who may be able to teach us skills that we don’t have. And we need to know how to effectively communicate with and work with others in order to do this. Since even school-age children bring different knowledge, skill sets, and experiences to the table during group projects, these children can learn skills and knowledge by effectively networking with their peers.