This might come across as a bit of a rant- and I don’t mean for it to. I’m not that angry. But I am emphatic.
There seems to be a growing push towards forcing collaborative reading on our students. There have been a rash of applications and web sites devoted to allowing teachers to assign reading, and mandating that students both contribute and share notes on that text. It’s a concept that’s been around for a while, but seems to have gained some traction recently. I suspect that much of that traction comes from some very decent apps and services that have done a very good job of approaching and managing the inherent problems. Cudos to them, honestly.
All that said, I’m not convinced. Collaborative writing is a great too for educators- it can really bring better conversations into the classroom about deeper concepts by more voices. That’s a very good thing. The issue I see/have is the mandated nature of this combined with the tendency of educators to overuse tools. While collaborative reading can be good, it isn’t always a good thing. And we, as educators, tend to find things that work and then promptly overuse them to death. We found wordles, and then everything had to be a wordle. We found twitter, and suddenly twitter is all we use.
In addition, and as I’ve mentioned here before, I’m an introvert. I don’t really like doing things like this publicly, and forcing me to do that creates resentment, worry, and essentially guarantee that I’ll hold back my best stuff. Then, to make matters worse, there’s the virtual certainty that I’ll be penalized for holding back my best stuff. It’s not going to go well for me.
Before you start thinking that introverts “need to learn” how to share what we’ve done, hold up. We’re not broken. We don’t need fixing. And I’m happy to share- on my time and when I’ve done my thinking. I’m not ready to write down my working, in-process thoughts for the whole world to see. That doesn’t feel like collaboration to me- it feels like exposure.
Reading has always, always been a private act for me. From a very young age, reading what the thing I knew I always got to do by myself- no matter how many people were around. It was between me and the book, and that made it a sanctuary for me. I’d be heartbroken to see my sanctuary taken away.