Language & Composition

Mr. Eure | Brewster High School

Plays Well with Others

By the time you graduate from Brewster High, you will have spent around 2,340 days in school, which adds up to (depending on how the hours are calculated) more than a third of your life.  That’s a sobering fact (and darkly amusing, in the hands of The Onion), because there are a few kinks in our educational system. As Sir Ken Robinson puts it:

Almost every conclusion drawn there is worth discussing, but we’ll have to shelve that discussion for now. I want you to pay attention to the 10:30 mark, when Robinson asserts that “great learning happens in groups” and “collaboration is the stuff of growth.”  Those simple truths escape most of us after kindergarten, because that was the last time we were assessed for our collaborative ability—that is, whether we play well with others or not.

This gets to a different kind of truth about your education. Good studenting (not the rote regurgitation of data for a test, but Robinson’s convergent thinking and problem solving) is aided by group work, and bad studenting (from cheating to self-loathing to grade obsession) is about individual goals, often at the expense of a group. We want to shift your focus from individual success to group success.

Let’s begin with how you will use this website—more specifically, the comment section of particular posts—to work with your peers. An effective online conversation looks something like this:

There are 186 comments in that thread. In defiance of Sturgeon’s Law, most of them are insightful; not all of them are collaborative, however, or built on and inclusive of the ideas of others. This year, as you emulate the shape and energy of that example discussion, you must ask two questions of every contribution you make:

  1. Is this comment collaborative, or is it an individual idea expressed in a kind of vacuum?
  2. What will be gained from the discussion this comment generates and/or to which it responds?

The more authentic and galvanic your contributions, the more you will receive in return. Try to be succinct, too; the more precise you are, the easier it will be for your peers to respond to you and for you to respond back to them. Focus your energy on the collaborative aspect of the thread.

You’ll need the instructions below when you begin your online discussions this Sunday:

  1. Click on “Leave a comment” or scroll down to the bottom of the post.
  2. Fill in the required information, using your BHS email address only. Use your full name, not a nickname or online handle.
  3. Type your thoughts in the comment box. (You may want to save your comment in a separate Word document or text file, just in case.)
  4. Edit and revise your work.
  5. Check the option to be notified of any comments made in reply to yours.
  6. Post the comment.

The first time you try to post, the comment will be held for moderation. This prevents spamming and holds you directly responsible for what you say online. Once you’re approved, you can comment without waiting for moderation, but only if you use the same name and email address. To reply directly to a peer, click where indicated next to his or her comment, and then follow the directions above as you normally would. You can track the most recent comments on the right side of each page of the website; you can also register for the RSS feed for a post by clicking on the button at the top of that box.

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