Monday, December 14, 2009

Smarter than the Smartest Person

"Next will be schooling that stresses the ability to solve problems, but not just to solve problems, but to be able to do it collaboratively so that you can work in a group where the group is smarter than the smartest person in the group, and also where you can innovate with the tools you've learned and not just do standard solutions to problems." (nd). Big thinkers: James Paul Gee on grading with games. Retrieved on 12/14/09 from

I selected this quote from video 2 for my Teaching with Technology class for this week. The part of this quote that intrigued me was the part that refers to the group being "smarter than the smartest person in the group". When we began our group project for this class I tried to be proactive by seeking out members to form a group. I felt it was important to seek out people who had common goals and interests on whom I could depend to be timely in completing their work and able to follow through on their commitments to the group. I approached the project with a positive attitude but soon began to feel somewhat overwhelmed by having to depend on others and not being "in control" of the outcome. Since the time our group was formed I came to feel that I was the weakest link. I have learned so much from the other members of my team which is so exciting. Reading about and creating learning communities and working collaboratively in a group has made me a true believer in the importance of using these methods in working with students. After viewing this video I see that by having the opportunity to work in a group we were able to achieve so much more than any of us could individually. As a group we demonstrated that we were "smarter than the smartest person in the group". That excites me even more!

A couple of other quotes by James Paul Gee that piqued my interest were "Very often, you don't learn that much from an expert, you can learn alot by learning with somebody else." And finally, "The other thing we've gotta do is make teaching a much more sexy job. Unlike some other countries, Americans don't think of teaching as a really sexy job. Wouldn't that be a cool thing to do?" Ok, I guess you have to see the video to get the full context of this one. I have posted the link above.

P.S. Only 4 days left and counting in this course!

12/17/09 - I had a couple of comments to my post above on the class discussion board. I added the following comment as my "final word" follow-up:

It's good to know that we have some of the same feelings in common regarding our experiences doing the group work. I hope we can keep this in mind when working with our students. There will be those students, like us, who feel inadequate to the task at hand. There will be those who are there to offer encouragement and provide direction and leadership to the group and the end results will be much greater than each individual could accomplish separately. I am reminded here of the Gestalt theory of pscyhology which says "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Possibly our experience is a good illustration of the Gestalt effect at work.

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