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[Xmca-l] Re: Article on Positioning Theory

Donna, I agree that "Collaboration is incredible complex" but then you add "and hard to achieve." Rather than taking it that "collaboration" means one very strictly defined norm, couldn't we accept that all the phenomena you describe (and more) are aspects of collaboration, and that there is more than one norm of collaboratin and many more ways of falling short of normativity, of being betrayed, exploited, disappointed, misunderstood, etc., etc.? I prefer to take every human relationship as an instance of collaboration, that is, I take collaboration as the lens through which to understand human relationships. But rather than setting up one norm against which every human experience turns out to be a dreadful failure, we could see every human experience as being a window on the experience of collaboration, the expectations, the productivity, the potential for disappointment, exploitation, etc.? Is there a better way to understand human relationship? Discourse? I think "collaboration" is a superior conceptual framework than "discouse."

*Andy Blunden*

Donna Kotsopoulos wrote:
Thanks for the probes, Greg!

I think that to answer your question, I may need to ask a series of rhetorical questions.

Have you ever worked collaboratively with others where: (a) someone had to agree to disagree?
(b) there was a slacker in the group?
(c) someone did all the work and all the talking?
(d) there was consensus but you wouldn't have called it collaboration?
(e) what you hoped to gain from the experience was not up to what you expected?

I believe most people, including children, would answer yes to some or all of those questions. This is because there is an endemic deficit to collaboration that has been ignored in the literature in my view. It's been a cup overflowing discourse despite the realities of many people.

I still have students collaborate - pretty extensively. My goals and expectations are different now. My approach in sharing the expectations is different now. I address those rhetorical questions head-on and encourage the students to own their own responsibility and to keep others accountable.

To some extent collaboration is merely an illusion. While we hope that shared discourse leads to learning, this can't be assumed and what is learned, intended or otherwise, can't be assumed. Similar to teacher directed learning, collaborative learning doesn't work for everyone. If an artifact or a decision is the outcome of collaborations, it is probable that someone in the group perhaps didn't agree or had alternative ideas. Collaboration and consensus are different. Collaboration is incredible complex and hard to achieve. Even as adults, the challenge is formidable - its because there is an illusion that must be perpetuated in order to achieve an end. Ultimately, a united front is presented - despite the fact that there may have been problems.

Donna Kotsopoulos, Ph.D.

Status: O