Is collaboration always the best choice?

I sat in a meeting earlier this week and listened to a description of how collaboration can be viewed as a strength, a “big idea,” and an impediment.  One of my colleagues in the room expressed surprise at the last notion, that collaboration could be a negative prospect. I found the conversation fascinating, and I thought a lot about how collaboration can in fact be an impediment.

I think that culturally we are at a moment when it’s only acceptable to be open to collaboration. The concept and the word have become “buzzy,” and as a result we have to embrace them.

The facilitator of the meeting explained that collaboration could be viewed as an impediment because it can potentially dilute the strength of the individual entities that are trying to collaborate. This makes a lot of sense to me.

As a result, collaboration between entities requires that those entities be strong and confident in their own individual areas of expertise.  If this is not the case, the collaboration could weaken the entities and therefore weaken the end product of the collaboration.  Collaboration requires openness, and that openness can only come out of a place of strength and confidence from the individual parties involved.  Additionally, collaboration cannot be forced. Collaborators need to meet each other in a moment and work together to move forward out of that moment. If the collaborators lack shared experience, knowledge, and/or vocabulary, the collaboration is likely to fail.

I’m adding “collaboration” to my list of things to ponder right now, along with subjectivity in educational assessment and gaming theory as a pedagogical stance.  Does subjectivity have a place in assessment, and if so, where and how much?  How does gaming theory affect how we teach this generation of young people?