Years ago I learned that wineries are often grouped together in a region. I hadn’t really thought about it. It is partially because of climate and terroir but also there is a business case for locating close to each other. It is much easier to be a destination for people to visit and concentration increases everyone’s profile. Think of Bordeaux or Napa or Niagara. I am sure there is still some cutthroat competition but at the end of the day, there is a recognition that together they are stronger.
This morning I read in my local paper about a craft brewery celebrating its fifth anniversary. Forked River Brewing Company will party with their supporters as well as the other local breweries and their brews. Rather than using this opportunity to promote themselves as “the best” they are concurrently promoting the other local brewers in the area. All bringing uniqueness and personality to the beer world but celebrating together.
I was tickled by the story. I like craft beer, but I am more delighted to see success come when competition is eschewed and collaboration embraced.
Sadly most education has not completely embraced what wineries and breweries have. Students are still ranked from the highest to the lowest grade, in turn, students rank themselves constantly against their peers. This can even be a source of bullying. Other than the mandatory group projects where collaboration is problematic society unconsciously reinforces competition everywhere. Yet we are stronger when we collaborate using our ideas, skills and gifts.
My daughter, who is presently in graduate school, speaks of the many college students who will sabotage the efforts of their classmates so that they come out on top. I have heard of ripping out pages of library books for years so that classmates don’t have access to the material. I am not sure long term how this will serve them in their career? Or how one person will find solutions to our wicked problems today? But these students don’t know any other way and being singular best has been reinforced in many cases for over 20 years for these young people.
As a long time educator, I never met a student that did not have something important to contribute. However, over time many of them shied away from doing so because their gifts were not valued in the spirit of collaboration.
To change the tide of education we need to look closely at the things we are doing at home and school that reinforce the importance of beating out the competition. And instead, invite everyone to a party to celebrate their uniqueness. Congratulations Forked River Brewery for your successful five years as well as your celebratory model.