Posted in Books, Collaborative Learning, Educational Reform

Rifkin on Schools

Excerpted from The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis, by Jeremy Rifkin:

“Collaborative work environments have long been standard fare in commercial fields and in the civil society.  Scientists, attorneys, contractors, people in the performing arts, not-for-profit organizations, and self-help groups traditionally engage in collaborative work environments.  School systems, however, have been slower to catch up.  That’s now beginning to change.  Although not yet the norm, an increasing number of classrooms at the university and secondary school level, and even in the lower grade levels, are being transformed into collaborative work environments, at least for small periods of time.  It’s not uncommon for large class groups to be divided up into smaller work groups, who are then given an assignment to work on collaboratively.  They then reconvene in plenary sessions where they share their findings, generally in the form of group reports.  The teacher’s new role becomes less that of a lecturer and more of a facilitator, charged with the responsibility of establishing the context, explaining the nature of the assisgnment, recording the various groups’ reports, and serving as a referee of sorts in an effort to reach a class consensus.  While the teacher is expected to share his own academic expertise and to point out the similarities and differences in points of view between the academic disciplines to which he is a part and the students own insights and beliefs, his input is seen as an important contribution to the dialogue but not the definitive last word on the subject matter under discussion.”


Dane Dormio is an online tutor and academic coach who specializes in helping all types of students achieve life and academic success, especially homeschooled students and those preparing for STEM careers. More information and resources can be found on his website at

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