Two heads are better than one?

Whereas this saying is meant in the literal sense of actually having two different people using their heads to come up with an idea or give a solution to a problem, nature has interpreted it differently.

With nature, there are many examples of two headed creatures: snakes, cats, dogs, turtles, fish, chicken and pigs, to mention but a few of the known creatures.

Siamese twins who are scientifically called conjoined twins have continued to marvel the world by their extraordinary features. Some have been joined at the neck meaning that they have two heads but one body; others are joined at the stomach, among other areas. 

Back to teaching, the learning trends in education now heavily focus on sharing heads—team work and collaboration as a tried and effective method of learning. The proponents of this method argue that group work is the modern method of preparing learners for a realistic future as they will continuously find themselves in situations and having to collaborate on projects or different parts of work. Skills such as decision making and sharing of skills and expertise alongside acknowledging each group member’s contribution are all vital components of a lifelong education.

For the educator, although it requires extra time to supervise and support the members as they create and shape ideas for the projects, it is worthwhile as it comes with a myriad of benefits. By carefully observing how students interact with each other without their conscious knowledge that they are being observed, you can discover many attributes about the different students, which can inform your teaching, group formation methodology as well as report writing (and we how tough it can be to generate separate content for end of term reports).

Interestingly, students identify themselves with their peers much more than they may with their teacher, and so having peers emphasising ideas that you have already introduced will be more effective in consolidating their knowledge than many lectures from a teacher.

Besides, the able ones will derive a lot of pride from explaining complex concepts and in so doing, share their problem-solving knowledge with those who may not have been able to do it on their own —a win-win situation. Above all, students take responsibility for their learning and consequences, such as meeting deadlines as a team.  All these are much desired aspects and in short supply in the world of work today.