Recently the world remembered one the most amazing historical events of the 20th Century – the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. I was so interested in this incredible achievement that I recently went to see the documentary at the local cinema which was made to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this great accomplishment. It was Sunday, July 20 1969 when Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the Commander of Apollo 11, set foot on the moon. His descent from the Lunar Module to the surface of the moon was the climax of a huge effort. We all remember Armstrong’s famous words as he took his first step, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind.”
(Photo taken at our recent Astronomy Night)
As I watched the documentary I marvelled at the number of people working together to achieve this incredible outcome. More than 400,000 engineers, scientists and technicians from more than 20,000 private companies and universities. What a remarkable feat of human endeavour. The level of collaboration that must have occurred without a single laptop or mobile device? Without email or text messaging? The effort of working together was run on the sheer will of people working collaboratively for the greater good. The necessity of meeting frequently to openly discuss problems, compare notes, refine plans, review and revise designs and ask questions with open hearts all aligned for the common goal of putting a man on the moon.
Owen W. Morris, Chief Engineer of the Lunar Module, commented…
“We got together on a frequent basis, compared notes about what the problems were and what anybody could do to help the situation. And there was a spirit of cooperation pretty much throughout the program. At no point was any team in the dark about what another group was doing, or what support they needed.”
What an achievement – one of the most astounding and memorable events in history that highlighted the very best of people working together to achieve a common goal.
We read in news articles the importance of our students developing skills for the 21st Century and can see from this example of Apollo 11 what can be achieved when people work together towards a common goal. The ability to collaborate with others has become one of the most sought-after skills in both education and the workplace. Bringing our students together in groups and working collaboratively towards a common goal; to communicate, resolve conflicts and manage tasks not only develops their academic skills, but also helps to develop social skills and relationships. Opportunities that give our students a chance to discover and use their God given skills and gifts. As our students interact with their peers, they acquire new ways of handling problems to help each other to think deeply and creatively about a subject and develop empathy for others’ perspectives.
Just like the Apollo 11 mission that took man to the moon, our students through the development of their God given gifts and skills of collaboration can also ‘reach for the moon.’
And we are here to help them get there.