Bully Beaters

Cooperation is Key to Social Harmony

Bullies seem to be made, not born. A study from the University of California, Berkeley, concludes that a cooperative school experience, versus a competitive one, can play a major positive role in the socialization of students.

Researchers canvassed 217 students in grades three through five, measuring how much they liked to cooperate or compete with their peers, and how often they acted with aggression or kindness toward them. The youngsters also estimated how often their teachers put them in small groups to complete assignments together, a classroom strategy known as “cooperative learning,” because the students have to collaborate with one another to get their work done.

Students that engaged in more frequent cooperative learning were more likely to say they enjoyed cooperating with others and reported exhibiting kind, helpful, prosocial behaviors. In contrast, students that said they preferred to compete were significantly more likely to act aggressively toward their peers and try to do them harm.

The results suggest that cooperation begets cooperation.  The researchers further concluded that cooperative experiences promote the development of the personality trait of cooperation. Based on their results, the researchers advocate more cooperative learning in classrooms  as a way to promote positive behaviors and combat bullying, or harm-intentioned aggression.

Source: Greater Good Science Center

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