Should you cooperate or collaborate?

Wall of Knowledge at IB Asia, 2014
Wall of Knowledge at IB Asia, 2014

I just spent six days at the IB Asia 2014 Conference, Ways of Knowing. You know how it is, so many great ideas, so much to think about, and all of it can be easily be forgotten if not continually called back into discussion. I wondered how I could keep these ideas spinning and create conversations about them.

I decided to condense some of the Big Ideas that I took away from the sessions and post them here. I would love discussions to develop from them. If anything ‘sparks’ a thought or provokes you, write a comment. Thanks!

1. Heard throughout the conference in different sessions:

Cooperation = being nice

Collaboration = being honest

If you are cooperating you are doing. If you are collaborating you are creating.

2. Heard at Richard Gerver’s session, keynote speaker.

“We need closer links between the world of work and education. Real collaboration would mean interaction between schools and businesses. For example, teachers could go and spend time in the work places of others in their community. Invite people other than teachers to unit planning meetings.” – R.G.

Steve Job introduced this mantra to Apple:

“Never employ anyone who needs managing.”

“We want a culture of staff and students that don’t need managing,” Richard Gerver

Richard Gerver

3 thoughts on “Should you cooperate or collaborate?

  1. At the conference I was at this weekend they showed a short video of the exponential growth of computers and technology and how eventually there will be a computer smarter than a human. Scary! Computers truly don’t have to be ‘managed’ – but I believe people always will. They are people! – sometimes tired, depressed, hormonal, lazy, grouchy, not motivated, hungry etc. And they sometimes take the liberty to act on all these emotions if not properly managed. If the company is big enough to be able to hand-pick the employees that don’t need to be managed, like Apple, they are in a unique situation. The rest of us get stuck with the ‘high maintenance ones’. So any little help we can get on this subject from the education system would be great. Good summary above Marina! Thanks.


    • Hi Kathy! You raise very interesting points. It is true that people come to the workplace influenced by outside factors. As colleagues we need to show compassion and empathy yet we also need to all be responsible to set high expectations and insist that are colleagues uphold their end. I guess in education we are lucky enough to hire professionals that are passionate about what they do. I think it comes down to having a purpose. How does someone become intrinsically motivated about what they do? Have you read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive? I recommend it. It might give you some ideas.


  2. I wasn’t at the workshop, but certainly wish I had been. Sounds like it was a very good professional learning environment with key themes in education being discussed. I agree that collaboration is the key to innovation and creativity. Collaboration requires us to challenge those around us in a growth-minded way. To collaborate, we must learn to give useful feedback which means being honest. We must be ready to be on receiving end of this feedback as well should we continue to deepen our practice and grow as educators.

    In regards to the Job’s comment about managing people. I agree, we want people who don’t need managing. But I see it more as people (the teachers) managing their own professional relationships. Yes, we are all going to have rough days. No doubt about it. Getting stuck with high maintenance teachers is a reflection of the recruiting process of a school and the decisions it makes about how they choose to run their institution.

    If the school is of a mindset that embraces autonomy and engagement, chances are very high that they are going to recruit teachers that fit this mould. In doing so, the chances of getting stuck with high maintenance teachers becomes much less likely.



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