Yeah, yeah. I know I said that Innovation Likes Company in my last post, but I got to thinking (on my own), and I realized that it is not always true. When you need to get unstuck from a rut or need a new outlook, you can really only get that by hooking up with some other people. HOWEVER, sometimes you need to be by yourself and grind things out.
I am still struck by the innovators I have met who say they can't do it alone, and it is probably true. No man is an island. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Two heads are better than one (unless you are buying shirts). Sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don't. We definitely benefit from getting ideas from other people, but we don't always want what is good, or even expedient, for us. It is why guys won't ask for directions when they are hopelessly lost. It is why people continue to complain about a problem that is already solved. It is human nature to defy logic because it is human nature to want to work things out for ourselves.
I came across an interesting TedTalk by Susan Cain that promotes the Introvert. It seems relevant here. As an introvert myself, it scores a lot of points with me.
TedTalks: The Power of the Introvert
Campfire, Watering Hole and Cave again
In terms of classroom design, we need to be able to allow for our spaces to accommodate all kinds of learning. My favourite design model is the Campfire, Watering Hole, and Cave areas. (I've mentioned this concept before, but I want to talk about it again because it underscores the balance between cooperative and solitary areas.) We need a Campfire area where the whole class can meet. Sometimes we need to give global instructions. Also, if we want to become a community or a tribe, we need a central meeting spot to build those whole group bonds and build a class identity. I've seen many classes use a circle or a classroom meeting area to fulfil this purpose. We also need Watering Holes where partners or small groups can gather to collaborate. If you want to see the intimate gathering potential of such an area, stand by the coffee machine or water cooler in an office on a Monday morning. Or watch the buffet area at a wedding or party, and see how people meet informally to have a little tete a tete. The Cave is a really important space for students who want to hunker down and get something done without being distracted. This is that solitary space where the ideas we've gathered at the Campfire and Watering Hole get synthesized into our own personal way of thinking. Sometimes we are using the Cave to focus the ideas in our heads and sometimes we are using the space to articulate or represent those ideas to others.
Even now, I sit by myself on my couch and write this (in my cave). I need time away from others as I think and I write. I bounce ideas off my wife at the dinner and my friends on the phone or around a table (at a watering hole). And then I throw my ideas out into the world community for consideration (at my electronic campfire. Kumbaya!).
Creating a Silent Cave