Group think

My online PGCert group (for which I am a facilitator)  is currently studying a module on the emotional intelligence of teams. Had I not worked on the connectivism course in 2008, I might not have even thought to question whether working in teams/groups is a good idea and also whether working in teams/groups leads to group think and stifles creativity.

As a result of CCK08 I have been able to play devil’s advocate with my teaching group and question these assumptions that they might carry with them into the workplace – i.e. that working in teams is  the way to go!

One thing I have learned from Stephen and George (and others such as Stephen Brookfield)  is that it’s worth surfacing  assumptions, even if it means challenging the assumptions of CCK08/09 – rightly or wrongly. Who’s to say?

4 thoughts on “Group think

  1. Carmen Tschofen October 14, 2009 / 7:32 pm

    Hi Jenny,

    More resonance:-) I just happen to be running through the somewhat dated but still relevant book “The Human Side of School Change: Reform, Resistance, and the Real-Life Problems of Innovation” (Evans, 1996. Evans doesn’t directly address problems of teams in terms of creativity, but does devote a bit of time to exploring the idealization of education/school teams, how this affects the idea (potential?) of teachers as independent artisans, and the deep assumptions people have about working as a group/team. A quote:

    “Many advocates of teacher empowerment and shared governance tend to imagine that creating participatory structures will generate harmonious, trouble-free decision-making; they make little provision for preparing people to resolve conflict. Or they believe that when discord does arise it can be handled thorugh constructive, nonconfrontational methods of bargining. Both assumptions are false.”

    He also notes that even when teachers operate as teams, it’s more of a behind the scenes thing that rarely affects/changes how students are taught. And:

    “Similarly, the keen interst in collaborative culture, though appealing, overlooks a fundmental advantage of teachers’ isolation: autonomy. It turns out that, contrary to much educational rhetoric, collaboration and autonomy cannot be reduced to a basic good-versus-bad dichotomy.”

    Definitely more food for thought 🙂


  2. suifaijohnmak October 15, 2009 / 1:37 am

    This is my response to Jenny’s interesting post on

    Hi Jenny and Carmen,
    I love to join your conversation.
    @Jenny, as posted here
    I have been studying, researching EQ for more than a decade and am still intrigued by its application and implication.
    I always referred back to Gardner’s multiple intelligence to start with, followed by Daniel Goleman when thinking and applying EQ in education.
    What I found was that many educational leaders have deep interests in this “niche” area and thus got training in it. However, the implications are: They are going back to their workplace and “mentor” their “subordinate” or peer educators. The educators have since been so accustomed to the “closed door” policy and “autonomy” regime in teaching. Since a coaching or mentoring approach starts from the coachee or mentee’s needs and wants to improve and develop, if the educator doesn’t see the need to be involved in the “team improvement process or COPs” or “mentoring process either individually or in a group”, what happens? Nothing? So, the result is: “Silence” is golden on both ends”. Training and development completed on a “one stop” workshop with theory only will be hung on the wall as certificates of competency, or even hall of the fame, but not much might have happened in the workplace. What happened next?
    Community of Practice approach (Ning, SL, wikis, twitters, face-to-face COPs across schools or universities, on the other hand, have appealed to a lot of educators, as there would be less conflicts, when working with educators in other schools, other sides of the communities. The issues are the security, trust, autonomy, and “intrusion” of privacy as perceived by educators when surfing on net. Besides, the self awareness, self control aspects of EQ are really personal, and not too many educators/learners would like to share their results online. Also, empathy is far from easy to fully understand, especially when people are “packed” with emotions or overly critical in heated debates, conversations or interactions online.
    So EQ is still a ‘myth” to many educators, and cannot be “easily introduced” IMHO. More research is needed to unfold the realities.
    I have once suggested Assumption Theory (see my post on this in ) as we have often made lots of assumptions in social networking and online learning, which would later found to be doubtful or false. I couldn’t find any significant research on this “Theory” except the one by Stephen Brookfield: The Getting of Wisdom: What Critically Reflective Teaching is and Why It’s Important
    I would surely look into Carmen’s reference.

    @Carmen: I agree with your conclusions. It is too easy to assume in an education/teaching/learning situation.
    I would like to explore with you two about the implications of EQ in online learning.

    I would compose some more posts that relate to my experience about team working, individuals, EQ and learning.

    My previous experience with EQ, team working revealed that EQ could have a great impact on learning. However, it seems that the more EQ one has, the more “power” and “control” it could exercise on others – “silence” is the most powerful influence on others….

    There has been a few researches done that correlate EQ with online learning. The findings were that those with high EQ would be more successful in online learning. This sounds like common sense, but is interesting.

    Is high EQ required in MOOC or MOON? How could we evaluate it? What are the measures of EQ in MOOC or MOON?

    Thanks Jenny for your insights. And Carmen for your interesting comments.

  3. suifaijohnmak October 15, 2009 / 1:44 am

    Hi Jenny,

    Sorry, it should be for the link.

    What are the responses of your class learners to this EQ so far?

    Is EQ helping team working/group work or not?

    For me, mixed results so far….


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