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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Interdependence (April 2019)

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


April 29, 2019

Thirty-five years ago, Costa and Garmston developed Cognitive Coaching as a theoretical framework for supporting self-directedness and developing cognitive capacity. At the center of the work are the Five States of Mind. Wellman and Garmston applied the States of Mind concept to groups and referred to them as Energy Sources. As students of this work, these five concepts serve as a framework for analyzing the internal resources of both individuals and groups.

This month, we offer a review and strategies for intervening with each of the States of Mind/Energy Sources.


John Donne famously wrote, “No man is an island.” As humans, we are inherently interconnected, needing one another for our most basic survival and to thrive and grow. Interdependence is a recognition of our need to live reciprocally, both giving and receiving resource and sustenance from one another. When conflict occurs, it is often the result of low interdependence and a default to autonomy.

Research has clearly demonstrated that when teachers collaborate, students learn more. It is through dialogic relationships that we construct meaning and add complexity to our world views. Interdependence requires both groups and individuals to draw on the other four States of Mind.

Ways to Intervene

Egocentricity is hard-wired in each of us; it helps us to survive by signaling our bodies to ingest nutrients, take shelter, and move from danger. Overcoming our egocentricity requires us to reach beyond ourselves. Some questions to assist others in looking outward include:

Who might be a resource for you with this dilemma? What might you need to ask for to navigate this challenge? How are you connecting with others in moving forward with this issue?

For groups, moving to an allocentric (other-centered) position and “going to the balcony,” to look beyond their limited view can assist in seeing systems and interconnections among individuals and parts.


What are the challenges for you in becoming more interdependent? What are some things you are conscious of in your own style preferences that assist or detract from your capacity for interdependence?

Considering a group you work with, how to you actively promote the group’s interdependence? How does conflict affect your group’s interdependence?

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