Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

Together We Are Better & Less Hungry

on November 11, 2012

I just finished reading, Steve Hargadon’s “Long-Handled Spoons and Collaborative Technologies”.  The Jewish folktale Mr. Hargadon shares with us is worth repeating:

“A Rabbi asks to see Heaven and Hell. His wish is granted and he’s taken to a room where everyone is seated at a long dinner table with delicious food in front of them.  However, everyone there is starving and emaciated.  This is because, the Rabbi discovers, while each has a long spoon strapped to his or her wrist, the spoon is so long they cannot pick up the food and actually put it in their mouths. They are utterly frustrated and bitterly unhappy. The Rabbi is told that this is Hell.

He is then taken to another room with everyone seated at an identical long table with delicious food, and each individual also has a long spoon strapped to his or her wrist.  These people, however, are well-fed, for they have learned that their spoons are perfectly designed to allow them to feed each other, which they are doing quite naturally.  They are joyous, happy, and contented.  The Rabbi is told that this is Heaven”

Recently, I have been heavily involved with collaborative efforts. I have been working on a wonderful and time intensive lesson with another teacher at my school. By nature, my job creates collaborative opportunities since I am the Computer Resource Specialist. Additionally, I have been working with a group of 6 other amazing educators, from my school and beyond as we create a wonderful opportunity for our faculty. Lastly, I have been collaborating with my PLN regularly as I have found amazing opportunities to reflect and discuss new thoughts and old thoughts with new angles of viewing. This collaboration has fed my professional soul.

So, if collaboration does feed all of those at the table, why would someone sit at the table and starve? According to the article, Mr. Hargadon explains there is a territorial element involved. “If I just start giving out my ideas and advice freely, haven’t I given away everything of value?” I also believe there is an element of fear and judgement involved for many. If I share my ideas and people don’t think they are good enough, what will I do then? Will they think what I say is interesting or important? Lastly, I wonder if for many, if it either never occurred to them to feed the person across the table and if they do consider it, they really aren’t sure how to even begin.

Let’s examine each one of these thoughts. According to Mr. Hargadon,” ideas have always been easy–it’s the execution that is hard.  And being free with ideas in a world of unlimited conversation is the best way to gather around you a team of people devoted to the same ideas, and it’s the team that really counts now”.  You could tell 10 people a fabulous lesson and 9 of them will not, for various reasons complete that lesson.  Insecurity and judgement is another reason some people don’t want to collaborate with others. It is scary and easy to think, “I have nothing to add or say. No one wants to hear from me.” The answer to that is –nonsense. You have as much to say as anyone. You also learn about yourself as you write, think and talk in any forum. Stop denying yourself and others the opportunity to learn from you. You are not realizing your full potential until you take advantage of these opportunities. Finally, for those that don’t know how to collaborate, I say the time is now. Ask someone, read some blogs, join Twitter. It is time to move beyond the, “I don’t know how” and move to “the show me how” phase. There are plenty of people around you who want to help, or show you how to make these amazing things happen for you. All you have to do is ask.

I receive more than I give by helping others, feeding others, collaborating with others. I benefit and grow because I share my ideas with you and you share your ideas with me and together we mix those ideas until we make new and better ideas. Together we are smarter and more fulfilled than we are alone. Are you ready to eat at the table? If not, what holds you back?

One response to “Together We Are Better & Less Hungry

  1. David says:

    Love the folktale…

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