While sharing with a math teacher at lunch about how I was using technology to connect my 6th grade math class with a class in Florida, he asked me “Why would I want collaboration in my class with another classroom?” He was not being a smart alek but was seriously wondering how it would help him or why it was important. I assume he was thinking about the agressive pacing schedule of the district curriculum and trying to meet the standards.
I must admit that the question threw me for a second. I hold global collaboration as a high personal value. I lived in China for two years, and often advise my students to take any opportunity to travel and/or live overseas if they get the chance. It is a question that I would never ask, but looking at it from his perspective it is a valid question.
I ended up answering by saying that it increased student motivation in that their work had an authentic audience. I compared hanging work on the walls to posting it on the internet to share with the world. I talked about our class’s work with Kyle Webb and how we made videos to answer his challenge problem to us. I didn’t talk about diversity, culture, or the force of globalization in the world. I didn’t talk about the importance of getting along with and being successful with all different kinds of people.
I think this is an example of how standardized testing of curriculum makes teachers focus so much on their content area that they forget about the other things that we need to teach students that can not be tested.
So help me out. How could I have better answered this teacher’s question “Why would I want collaboration in my class with another classroom?”