The Collaborare Condicio model of teaching high school students

Schooling is  systemic, institutionalized oppression. A way to police students (and also teachers), laying out a series of hoops for them to jump through. How else can an educational institution be measured if its students aren't channeled into defined streams with only an occasional option for a mid-course change from one stream to another.

The streams give comfort to all involved except for the student.

Parents feel comforted that their child is in good, solid hands. Teachers can be proud when their cohort achieves an average of A- test results. Senior school staff, and school management, build their careers on these solid average test results.

And students? Well they are delivered to the mill as grist for the production of a useful adult, capable of contributing to the 21st-century industrial/digital complex.

Students graduate full-time education with a report card that provides no insights as to their innate skills, their attitudinal competencies, their life-skills.

Our children come off the education production line clasping their ticket to what they hope will be an exciting future.  If they exit education at their high school graduation, then they've almost certainly been experiencing an adversarial environment that would have truly tested their resilience and self-management.

High school years 7 to 12 are the Sine qua non years. Translated literally as "Without which, not", it means more or less "Without (something), (something else) won't be possible". Like without at least a B+ in your math test you'll get 12 hours of homework that's due Monday morning.

Schooling in years 7 to 12 are generally adversarial in a Sine qua non kind of way. And homelife during these years is likely to be Sine qua non.

Applying for and being offered a place in a college far from home can be the escape young people crave. An end to day in and day out adversarial challenges that destroy self esteem. Once self esteem erodes away it can lead to tragic acts. Youth (18-24) suicide in Australia and the USA has doubled in the last 10-years.

There's an obvious alternative to Sine qua non, that I propose will alter the attitudinal dynamic in schools to bring every student the opportunity for the most rewarding experience of their formal education.

I'll call it, Latin Collaborare Condicio - English to collaborate through agreement.

For the teacher, the start  of her relationship with her students is a Collaborare Condicio. Together we will collaborate and develop the skills you will need throughout your life. Our time together is a collaboration; we all contribute and we all learn new skills and we learn to consciously apply these skills.

Importantly this collaborative relationship enables the potential for the students to give the teacher new knowledge, awareness, and perspectives. Who would have thought the students can teach the adults?

The Collaborare Condicio model of teaching high school students recognizes that they all have Agency, and importantly, enables the students to experience the sense of value that goes with applying their Agency.

I've been observing recently in the programs my Not-for-profit runs with year 9 and 10 students, mostly 15 and 16-years of age, how strongly the students engage with program. The format is small groups of 6 students working with a mentor/facilitator to analyze and solve real-life problems of local  business owners.

It is a perfect example of Collaborare Condicio. Young people excited by the opportunity to collaborate with each other and their mentor, together creating an outcome, an artifact of their efforts that can be implemented by the business owner.

Collaborare Condicio, the polar opposite of the Sine qua non approach to education.

I'm truly proud of the work we are doing and I'm delighted we are a proof-point for Collaborare Condicio.

My name's Greg Twemlow, I'm the designer of the Skills Studio Framework and a big proponent of Collaborare Condicio.

I'm proud of my work on this project and am dedicated to see it applied in schools all over the world. Please reach out if you'd like to apply the framework at your school. Connect with me on LinkedIn or email

Latin Collaborare Condicio - English "collaborate through agreement".

Latin Sine qua non years - English "Without which, not".

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 About the Author:

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Greg Twemlow is a Sydney-based Social Enterprise Founder | Startup Mentor | CEO | Writer | Speaker | Designer at the Skills Studio