Punished by Rewards LO13974

Scott Simmerman (SquareWheels@compuserve.com)
Mon, 16 Jun 1997 12:44:25 -0400

Replying to LO13964 --

June Main in LO13964, in continuing the thread, said:

>Would be neat to have this kind of collaboration spread on a university
>level. . . and everywhere . . . intrinsically motivated . . . need more
>involved in this paradigm shift.

An interesting thought. Collaboration is a huge issue in our educational
process and one that all of us need to address in whatever way we can.
I've posted herein before on my personal problems with the educational
process as it has been done TO me. But I've also tried to make an impact.
Let me share an example:

I tried to do some team building and education in a graduate level course
on human resource management a few years ago (average student age was
about 30). We started with my team building game, which focuses on the
benefits of collaboration but where the play is generally competitive.
The latter measurably suboptimizes results.

My goal was to make the key point - let's work together. A few of the 20
students "got it." The "final" was based on team presentations. The
students had to define a situation about "consulting" and then interview
local consultants / HRD people and then produce a JOINT paper and do a
JOINT presentation.

So many were worried about whether the others would "do their share."
Thus, the perceived possibility of competing and collaborating was
stressful. And everything I know about stress is that it interferes with
learning much more than it energizes it.

Overall, though, I do not think that the issue is the Student. My belief
is that the teachers are generating the competitiveness, intentionally.
Many operate in the paradigm of "forced grading curve" which puts the
students into competition.

Take the school where I taught psychology. We selected VERY talented
students, many who were in the topo 10% of their high school class. We
then forced a curve that resulted in so many A's, B's and C's. I got a
bit of grief from the administration for being too easy if there were no
D's in my intro classes.

These days, I take particular pleasure in delivering the team building
exercise in schools. ALL the benefits are for collaborating and sharing
information. But schools (faculty and administration) are among the most
competitive groups we see (along with very senior execs and outside
salespeople), even when we deliver the game to teachers in Hong Kong and

And, although there are some changes being seen, Teachers have RARELY had
the experience of teaming in their careers. They see themselves as Lone
Rangers (Tonto's dead) out there. It is a paradox that is causing
problems worldwide.

So, trying to leverage a bit, I package the game with a Business Education
Partnership debriefing, so corporate trainers can deliver it in their
local schools. But it is a real problem for students making the transition
from schools to the workplace.


For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Performance Management Company 3 Old Oak Drive, Taylors SC 29687 (USA) 864-292-8700 SquareWheels@compuserve.com

Visit The Lost Dutchman at http://www.clicknow.com/stagedright/dutchman/

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>