[Update: this was the original post I wrote for week 2. It was quite off topic so I’ve now written Collaborating in a community of inquiry which is much more relevant to our own community-thanks guys;)]
Collaboration, participation, combination, communion, congruity, connection. Versus antagonism, animosity, antipathy, hindrance, discord and hostility. What sounds better? These two groups are clearly at odds with each other. In fact, they are diametrically opposite. They are also part of a personal choice we all make every day. How do we want to operate through life? What do you think is better for humanity?
My natural instinct when moving within a community is firstly to engage with others through establishing points of reference. I look for the similarities, instead of focusing on the differences. It’s so easy to fall in the trap of ‘the other’, and to place oneself in a superior position. By doing this we unwittingly build walls around ourselves. A healthy curiosity for the world at large draws me towards differences in individuals and groups. What is it that makes them different? What makes them tick? What is their view of the world? Some of the most worthwhile conversations I’ve had were with people who, through talking about their lives, have sparked a different vision for me. When it comes to our ‘community of inquiry’ I would like to be someone that sparks that kind of conversation.
As professionals, I think we primarily should build bridges between the community and information, thereby helping in the process of creating what I might term an ‘evidence based practice’ society. My challenges in this? I must admit I’m an assertive individual with strong opinions-if you get into a political debate with me you will know it can quickly take on the shape of sparring. This is a natural tendency for most people but nevertheless an instinct that as a professional I will need to moderate. As long as there is respectful interchange we are there to enable the sharing of knowledge.
We currently live in an authoritarian world obsessed with fear, creating barriers and restricting inquiries into the actions of those in power. The message is clear: don’t ask too many questions. Don’t listen to the facts, go with the gut reaction. Although this may seem far removed from a community such as this, it nevertheless has repercussions on society at large. It has a divisive effect, separating communities and individuals and making it harder to create trust and therefore work together. As a race, human beings always achieve more when groups of people from different backgrounds decide to work toward the common good. This seems obvious, but it is easy to appeal to people’s base instincts. This is why we need collaborative communities that are well informed and tolerant of differences. It takes respect and tolerance.
To reiterate, I think this is part of a personal choice each of us makes every day. What can I learn from another? How can I participate? As with many other things, it is a matter of willingness.
I leave you with a sobering thought:
It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.