by Jan Connal, Cerritos College
As members of the academy, we participate in a unique and revered culture of independence – we function with relative autonomy within our own, private classrooms. This prized culture, however, comes at a great price: our private, expert knowledge and experience, like a bud that fails to blossom, often fails to inform or affect the larger, collective practice. As a consequence, advancements in education are slow to come about.
We work in isolation much of the time, absent a sense of shared practice. Indeed, our students will encounter a range of instructional practices, some effective and others not so much. And, while the academy is made up of hundreds of effective instructors, much of the expert experience and knowledge resides in the individual, left untested and unharvested for the greater good.
In contrast, consider those fields making the greatest advancements – medicine, engineering, technology:
- They work in teams, collaborating together.
- Both formal and informal processes exist for taking individual ideas, theories, findings, models and solutions and subjecting them to professional scrutiny by expert peers.
- Any new knowledge or development must be vetted to establish a new foundation if it is to extend future work.
- An essential aspect of the professional practice in these fields is to actively contribute to and gain knowledge from dynamic channels of communication.
This is how progress is made.