Throughout our lives, it seems as if every teacher is an advocate for teamwork. They remind us to work together, to bounce ideas off of one another. For my math teacher, this is especially true. He constantly reminds us that the best way to study is by using each other as resources.
Despite these suggestions, however, I have found myself, until recently, preferring to work alone. It seemed like a much more productive and efficient way to spend my time. I thought that in this way, I could spend my time working out problems I had in math or science without all the extra chitchat that came with working as a group.
I continued with this mentality, struggling on my own through Junior and Lower year at Andover. It wasn’t until Conference period this winter that I finally began to see the wonderful benefits of working in a group.
Although my classmates and I were all in the same math class, we had our different strengths and weaknesses. Some people were experts on derivatives, while others were masters of related rates. This diversity of talents led to a very collaborative experience and helped us improve in areas where we were weak. The group dynamic also allowed us to help others in areas where we were strong. This back-and-forth exchange made me realize how efficient working together could really be.
Since this moment, I have expanded on this notion of collaborative work, especially when preparing for major assignments. Now, whenever possible, I use group work to help me prepare for my classes. Not only does group collaboration help me to quickly gain a proficient understanding of the course material, but it also makes learning the material a lot more enjoyable.
Andover brings together “youth from every quarter”, one of Andover’s many mantras. By admitting a diverse group of students, Andover encourages us to learn from each other, not only by sharing our different cultures and backgrounds, but also in our methods of learning. To deprive ourselves of this wonderful opportunity would not only be a disservice to the mission of Andover but also a disservice to ourselves. We have so much to learn from the people around us, and we need only to give them a chance to do so.
Andover can seem hard at times. Most of us come to Andover at the tender age of 14, and many of us are unprepared and unequipped for the challenges Andover presents us. Faced with living alone, demanding courses, extremely competitive athletic events and a lack of sleep, finding the right balance and method for success here can be extremely difficult. To do this, adjustments have to be and are made. We learn to manage our time, take quick showers and drink coffee. In this way, we must also learn to adjust our learning methods.
By working together, we can become more effective in our studies. We should not struggle alone and deprive ourselves of the opportunity to learn resourcefully and efficiently. Instead, we should use Conference period, make plans to meet in the library and create study groups. We have an abundance of opportunities and resources here at Andover, and it would be shame if we wasted the biggest resource of all: each other.
Jay Reader is a three-year Upper from Wayzata, MN.