Cooperation

We begin with this particular word because it is arguably the most undermine words in the English language. Starting before Pre-K, you are taught how important it is to cooperate and very quickly you take it for granted. Yet, it is by and far one the most important words and weighted concepts that any teacher should understand. You know cooperation means to work together. Yet lets take some time to understand how vastly important that concept is.  According to anthropologists and historians the sole reason human beings are so wildly successful as a species is the ability to cooperate . The human imagination allows this. Imaginations allow us understand what we are not able to see. Imaginations allow people to understand ideas and concepts that are not concrete and physically tangible. The concept and phrase “Now, picture this…” is beyond every other species on the planet. Our ability to imagine and see what is not actually in front of us is spectacular.   Think how this imaginative process has allowed us to work together and cooperate. People who have never met worship within the same religions worldwide. People give money to the Red Cross after a horrific event after only hearing about it and seeing a few images on TV. The Red Cross is invisible. If anything, it is two red lines on a white banner. However, our imaginations through cooperative actions make it something. Sure, the horrific images on TV may be real, but it is a persons imagination incited by those real images that cause them to take tangible action. Trade is based entirely on imaginative cooperation.  Technologies you use every day, the parts in your phone, in your computer, were mined and built on a completely different part of the planet. Your phone and computer were built with cooperation. The people who run the tech company and design the very thing you have purchased may have never physically seen the elements in your computer before looking at them after a shipment to where they live. It was the stories and understanding of those elements that ignited the shipment in the first place. There are people all over the planet working for the exact same ideas at the exact same time with other people they will never meet.

 Our ability to tell stories and connect with one another is directly related with out ability to cooperate our imaginations and innovate.  Small groups of hunter-gatherers have blasted to the size of cities and countries. Kennedy inspired the imaginations of a nation along with its astrophysicists, and rocket scientists when he announced the space program and the moon landing. From a macro perspective the human species is doing fantastically well due to our ability to tell stories and thus cooperate, yet, lets admit, from a micro perspective it is not always easy to get people to cooperate with you. I would argue teachers understand this more than most people. On any given Tuesday a teacher must not only teach content and curricula to young minds, they must also get them to focus.  So lets zoom in. Quite frankly, I believe what makes someone easier to cooperate with is their ability to make one feel comfortable. They must be comfortable with themselves to do so and to find that comfort with self they must practice their performance skills. They must practice being seen and looked at while committing to action. In this they are able to spark the imaginations of the group and when you spark imagination you get wonderful cooperation. 


[1] “Any large scale human cooperation—whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe—is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination”(Harari).