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Need to treat cooperation as central value of education rather than social Darwinism of competition
The tyranny of competition and examination-centric education can be over if cooperation is deemed as the main value of education rather the competition based on marks economy.

The present system examination is based on social Darwinism, in which the fittest or achievers are lauded and glorified through news stories, awards and publicised congratulations in which bureaucrats and ministers also take part. However, social scientist Michel Foucault views such events as 'ceremonies of power'.

Noted educationist John Dewey has also criticized competition in educational institutions and advocated strongly their restructuring as democratic learning communities with due recognition of the worth of cooperation in education.

Social theorists and many educators question the adequacy of the current dominant pattern of education which is emphasizing the following: competition; external motivation through reward and punishment; individual performance; memorization; and interaction mode of lecturing and recitation.

The dominant recitation model of teaching or lecturing followed by questions for individuals to respond followed by affirmation of responses as correct or incorrect followed by rewarding the good performers and stigmatizing the bad performers who need support because teaching model does not accommodate their learning style diversity. Thus, the lecturing model with emphasis on competition is bad for the society and most individuals.

Keeping in view, the damage being done by the competitive mode of learning, many are practicing the cooperative learning methods and advocate for their wider use. Let's know more about cooperative learning.

On the other hand, cooperation in learning is both socially and intellectual stimulating. Therefore, education needs to live up to its central societal role of preparing individuals who would strengthen the democratic social order in institutions and society through collective and participatory processes to learn and make decisions to be owned up by them.

Essentially, cooperative learning provides a solid sociological foundation to education. Therefore, it needs to be understood that social interaction is a pre-requisite to learning because higher mental functions such as reasoning, comprehension and critical reflection originate and develop in group situation and then internalized individually.

Keeping in view the sociological foundation, five essential ingredients of effective cooperative learning have been proposed. These being: group learning with face-to-face interaction; positive interdependence through giving and receiving explanations, collective reasoning and consensus building; opportunities for building collaborative skills; group processing techniques such as review of inter-relationship and process purity ; and individual accountability coupled with the group accountability by stressing group achievement

The researches also show that cooperative groups generate energy for improved learning; shared responsibility and mutually helpful interactions produce positive feelings towards tasks and one-another; and cooperation in learning results in better self-image among most students by improving their achievement

Thus, cooperative learning strategies consist of a mix of information processing models of learning and social models of group behaviour.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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