commune2/kəˈmjuːn/verbgerund or present participle: communing
1.share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with (someone), especially on a spiritual level.”the purpose of praying is to commune with God”
Yesterday, I returned from a brilliant 24 hours worth of ‘Hen Do’ in Bristol including, but not necessarily in the same order: gin, spa, afternoon tea, cocktails, games, Popworld* full-on breakfasts and Locked in a Room.
It was the last activity, Locked in a Room, that was the most surprising in terms of what it delivered. Even more enlightening than Popworld*. Being locked in a room with four other people, only one of whom I knew well, filled me with a certain amount of dread not dissimilar to sitting in a dentist; not top of my favourite things-to-do list. Not because I’m shy, but because I know I can be a nightmare in a competitive situation. I’m totally aware of my natural propensity to ‘take over’. Job needing doing? I’m your girl. Rolling up my sleeves, determinedly. A bit bossy, all in all – my mates would forgive me, but strangers? All a bit risky.
However, this experience left me pondering over the sheer joy and exhilaration I felt – even when it was frustrating – to collaborate with others on a joint problem. (e.g. getting out of a locked room).
For those who don’t know, Locked in a Room, (AKA Escape Rooms) involves being ahem locked in a room for an hour with other people. You work together to solve a series of clues that lead to you finding keys and codes with which to escape the room. Most of these clues are cryptic, hidden away in tins, drawers and boxes secured with combination locks – each hint giving access to the next. It taps into our human need to solve problems, sniff out patterns and collaborate. We become junkies for a flash of inspiration and the success it brings.
As the time ticked along, it was clear that there wasn’t one person we could do without. Each one of us had a different insight that together helped us get out of the room in time. It was pretty amazing how we seemed to synchronise and work, sometimes in tandem pairs, sometimes individually and sometimes as a whole group. I became aware of a ‘flow’ and a joyful purpose… (Too much? I don’t think so). Guy Claxton, among others, has spoken of this before.
Collaboration is in the top five effective strategies for teaching and learning, according to the Education Endowment Fund. We are hardwired to connect, pattern-seek and problem solve. When together, we bear more fruit. In school, we build in opportunities for peer learning wherever we can. Children need to own their solutions – autonomy, mastery and purpose are intrinsic drivers. It is also why we need to teach acceptance, tolerance, listening – it aids our joint endeavours. It isn’t always easy working with others. The ego’s not always keen.
When our learning taps into our basic drives, we don’t need to coax, threaten or insist on children learning. When done right, leaning feeds the very purpose of our existence – to seek meaning and connection in the cosmos.
It’s a beautiful thing and a sacred endeavour.
When done collaboratively, it is divine.
*Popworld. If you know, you know.