Collaborative Experiences.

No one should be alone. We, as humans exist in/within communities, groups, population, cultures, families among others. From birth, an individual’s community/family assumes responsibility for the upbringing of the individual. From the kindergarten teachers to next-door neighbours, a network of people periodically provide support and care. Kids are encouraged to go out and make friends. Holidays, rites of passages celebrations are only complete with family and with long standing traditions; families are responsible for guiding the individual in their eventual situation to life. Humans usually live communally or simply tolerate each other hence we are regarded as social but complex creatures. The old adage “No man is an Island” is heard too often from the mouths of those who wish to talk introverts out of their highly valued internal conversations. Can you respect my privacy please? Tolerate. Even when research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption (Cain, 2012. ) The old biblical story of the tower of Babel highlights the great power of team work and collective experience. After the flood in the post-Noahic world; humans on earth were united in one language. Soon after, they decided to team up together and build a tower that could reach the heavens. They built a sky high edifice, continued building until they were struck by God and started to speak different languages. The workers abandoned the work and migrated to different ends of the earth. The tower of Babel became desolate; a withered testament to the power of unity. In my lonely times, I wonder about the unspeakable power in team work. Men and women;if matched together in intelligence, fervor and ambition could indeed change the world like the workers of Babel attempted to. If individual achievements matter; then the world exists on the axis of collective achievements. Greatness is in the WE not I, alone .

In Zulus, Alice Achitophel finds herself in trouble when she gets pregnant in a dystopian world that ended reproduction. The citizens consider it a mercy killing of some sorts. It was better to kill the fertility of the women so their children would not suffer in the failed planet. A twisted type of Eugenics not based on the discrimination of skin color but merely existing as a fertile human. No community could support the children especially since humans had failed the planet and the planet was dying as a result. Although no fault of hers as she had been raped, Alice finds herself in grave danger as the only fertile woman in the world now pregnant. Furthermore, she rebelliously dismantles the cable antenna of her neighbour, Mrs Landers and becomes a fugitive. She runs to Theodore Theodore, her supervisor at the Division of Religious Adjustment for help. He suggests that they get help from the rebels and create an escape plan. Kevin Peters known as the Black Man; Lucinda Knotes, Theodore Theodore’s lover help Alice leave the city. If not for their help; Alice, persecuted and helpless, would have end up in a fat reduction camp or prison. She would not have end up becoming Kevin Peter’s lover and experiencing brief moments of happiness in loving him. For her, giving birth to herself and finding love were the best moments of her life after suffering for so long. No one can survive alone. We all need each other like we need air to breathe. Everybody is important together. This is true for our collective survival.

Corporation, governments,states; teams; all powerful systems and structures are made by people; for the people and with people. None of them function outside the other.  However, there is a potential hazard to look out for in collaborative projects. This hazard manifests in the form of a psychological concept called “Groupthink”.  “Groupthink”, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (Victims of Groupthink p. 9). Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanise other groups. Irving stipulates that groups are especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making. This is why communities encourage and call for diversity because there is strength in unity but power in our individual differences. Group members should be encourage to think differently and add their unique thoughts in a cohesive manner.

In my English 101 class; we are currently working on a collective collaborative statement to help the study abroad office create awareness on the possible dangers apparent in medical voluntourism. This was after we found a program on their website proposing to allow students perform medical procedures even without proper training. This is especially dangerous and unethical as human lives could be put in unnecessary danger. On day 1 of drafting the collective project; most group members retreated into their shells and did not say much except the usually extroverted ones. However, by day 3 , most of the the group members became more expressive especially after completing self-assessment forms and receiving confirmation feedback on their individual contribution. Indeed; I believe the change in expression is as a result of constant engagement with the material and with each other. As the days passed; we all got more comfortable with each other, became more open to sharing our thoughts and actively sure in the freedom to express dissenting opinions where appropriate. This helped to guard against groupthink even as we are all from different backgrounds and we do not think the same. Students were able to step into new roles and work better collaboratively. At the end of the day, this is important because even as multiple sources lend more authenticity to information. Two heads are better than one in achieving the greater things in life. No one should be alone.

 

 

 

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