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Teamwork in Education: A critical factor for success

[3 mins Read]

It’s no secret, Teamwork is considered a critical factor for success in any profession – corporates, startups, NGOs – you name it. However, when it comes to the current education system, it does not emphasise teamwork. Instead, by design, our schooling and university education system develop individuals with certain skills. No doubt, individual capability development is genuinely required, but it should not be at the cost of learning how to make a collective impact.

Humans are the most advanced species primarily because we can cooperate and work together at a scale that no other species has demonstrated. We carry teamwork in our DNAs; our forefathers did teamwork as hunter-gatherers for thousands of years. So, it’s a pity that we designed our education system to suppress this gifted ability.

In the past 200 years, we have seen unprecedented development in technology, inventions, and overall our understanding of the world. Communication and digital technologies worked like gasoline on a fire. The exponentially increasing knowledge made it impossible to do any development without teamwork. Unfortunately, when it comes to our education system, apart from some areas in research studies, our education system from schools to colleges has primarily focused on developing an individual’s abilities and capabilities. 

For example, let’s take a look into the superstar technology of our time, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and what it takes to create an AI application.  AI draws it’s foundational strength from Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science. This foundation helps to develop efficient tasks and algorithms. However, when you see from an AI product perspective, the contribution of the foundational part is hardly a quarter of the whole. 

Apart from the core algorithm, an AI product needs connectivity to the data sources, a platform to host the program and run, a user interface, a disciplined way to develop the product, aka DevOps. And apart from all these technical needs, an AI product needs to be clear of any data privacy issues and any inherent biases that might creep from the AI product’s decisions. Considering all that listed so far, it should be apparent that it’s practically impossible to develop an AI product by a single person. 

As the African proverb goes – It takes a village to raise a child. It’s no different for an AI product – here it takes a team of diverse experts. The chances that you will learn all the skills required to create a complete AI product are very thin. Success for anyone in the community can only come from developing expertise in one or a few of these topics and our capability to collaborate, do teamwork, and harness the complementary skills of other experts. 

I ranted that over the last 200 years, we haven’t designed our education system to teach teamwork. At UNP, we immensely value the spirit of teamwork. Therefore, we emphasize on opportunities to learn and practice cooperation and teamwork in all UNP courses, even for those courses we design with our partner institutes.

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