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Collaborative learning useful in teaching kids to take risks

I agree with Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng on the need to encourage students to take more risks and be resilient and cooperative ("Dare to 'chiong'"; Jan 8).

I help Singapore teachers learn how to apply collaborative learning principles and techniques in their classrooms, and have observed it being used successfully in a wide range of contexts, with students of many different ages learning many different subjects.

For the uninitiated, here is the Wikipedia definition of collaborative learning: It is a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together. Unlike individual learning, people engaged in collaborative learning capitalise on one another's resources and skills (such as asking one another for information, evaluating one another's ideas and monitoring one another's work).

More specifically, collaborative learning is based on the model that knowledge can be created within a population where members actively interact by sharing experiences and take on asymmetric roles.

Based on these experiences, as well as other research, I believe that collaborative learning in classrooms can be useful in enabling students to build their willingness to take risks, their ability to bounce back from failure and their eagerness to cooperate.

Hence, I urge the ministry to continue its efforts to promote collaborative learning.

George Jacobs (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 15, 2017, with the headline 'Collaborative learning useful in teaching kids to take risks'. Print Edition | Subscribe