You probably can't. Each person has learned certain things in life that make them different. Most people simply are self centered idiots(regardless of what a piece of a paper says or how well they can do on an exam). Most people do not have the human connection that is the fundamental point of it all anyways. You could try to explain to them in a logical fashion, discussing evolution, religion, philosophy, psychology, etc, but if they have no interest in these subjects then they will not understand it.
All humans have is each other and the human network is broken and dysfunctional. The problem you see is fundamental and exists on many levels and in many different areas. The governments, the churches/religious institutions, the education system, amazon(both it's business model and the companies that put their products on to sell), parents, the lawn guy, etc.
Humans do things and they do them for reasons, but they generally fail at understanding the true purpose of those reasons as they relate to others, which then come back to the relation to themselves(you could call it karma, but it is simple physics(every action as an equal and opposite reaction, and, after all, we are, at the very least, just atoms)).
Our social structure is centered around the ego and self-gratification with nearly complete disregard for the consequences. We, as individuals, attempt to maximize our own happiness, and the only way to do that is to deprive someone else of theirs. E.g., A billionaire surely is not "worth" any more than a millionaire, or even someone that is broke, yet our societies seem them as worth more and we end up with a positive feedback cycle that amplifies the worst behaviors. The billionaire has the ability to control much larger factors in the world and influence it, regardless of that persons actual ability to do the right thing.
e.g., millions of companies simply create products to sale to make money so the owners can spend the money on material things to make themselves "happy"(which usually is some form on instant gratification). These companies sell products to people that are, too, trying to gain happiness. In the transaction, resources are wasted. e.g., you buy a product and eventually that product ends up in a landfill... and the cycle repeats. After many generations all our natural resources will have been converted in to things that end up in landfills.
What does this have to do with your specific issue? Everything. The mentality you are fighting is built in to the system and is amplified by all means. Your coworkers are just small companies that do the same thing. They are blind to the ultimate effects of their actions and simply follow the status quo.
You could try to change them, but chances are they do not want to be changed nor listen to reason nor do the right thing(which, generally requires them to give up some of their happiness, or pursuit of happiness, for the betterment of humanity).
My suggestion, is that you simply do what you feel is right and try to maximize your effect vs effort. That means: Instill in your students the desire to help other human beings and that happiness actually comes from others(as does sadness, emotional pain, etc).
Make the environment as fun and interesting as you can, but always keep in mind the ultimate reason for it all(which is not so they can go out and make big bucks, because that just creates more unhappiness in the world, in which they will be part of).
Human beings are amazing creatures and the learning part of it is easy when there is a purpose to do so. The reason my kids in America are idiots is not because they actually are but because the system is broke. Almost all teachers are broke(they only care about drawing a paycheck, they are generally are frustrated with the system(the administration, who only cares about making money) and the students(who are confused and not properly educated to achieve what they want). But when there is a true purpose, we learn very easily and can accomplish amazing things.
The money game ruins all in the long run. Focus on meaningful things and simply try to get that across to your students. You can't help every student either. It is neither practical nor responsible, but this does not mean you do not try, you simply plant the seed and water it. You can do the same to your fellow coworkers, but chances are it would be even more of a waste of time. If you are a leader time, you can try to lead them to "water", but you must take a stand and be willing to go through that mess(which, if you can do, is worth it, and it needs to be done, but ultimately you can only do some much in life. Choose your battles).
You must realize, and I think you do, that the system is broke. If it were not broke, you would have never brought up the issue and we would not be experiencing the effects. Most either do not know the system is broke or do not know how to fix it and hence are not willing to try(which is the problem, because to have something you must build it, building it is the only way to achieve anything. You must build happiness, you must build love, you must build greatness... and the bigger it is, the longer it takes).
So, simply try new things, don't be afraid. No one is god and no one has the right answers yet(because if they did, it would be working). If someone tells you(like a coworker) that X won't work, tell them to fuck off and do X anyways(if you feel it is the right thing to do). They, generally, are people that do not want to "rock the boat" and are either afraid of change or too short sighted or ignorant to predict the effects of X.
If you end up coming up with something that works, you will create a trend and start something good... and that is the goal. People are sheep/followers and they need leaders. Leaders are people that believe in something more than other human beings. But those are extremes and we can always become stronger at what we are(or weaker; e.g., a follower can become a weaker follower and hence a stronger leader over time if they invest the time to do so).
As far as specifics about students, You will just have to work that out on your own. There are no general principles except the human and evolutionary characteristics(like, we generally learn by repetition/patterns. We learn best when we see a purpose in what we are learning, humans are social creatures, we all want to "achieve", etc).
I think if you engage students and allow them to have a voice, that will get them interested in participation. e.g., you have many different types of students. Some are just very eager to do things and less ego based. Some are very ego based. Some are "smart" and some "stupid". Some are not interested in what they are doing but do it for other reasons(money, family, etc).
If you can engage each student and find out what drives them and use that in a constructive way then you've won at least half the battle. This is not actually hard to do. Simply invest your time(which most teachers don't because they are lazy and pathetic, not their fault, of course) and observe each student. If, say, you have a student that seems to be uninterested in the material. Find out what they like.
e.g., Suppose the student is really in to comics. You know this because you seen him bring them to class. You can engage him on it a little to find out more and see if he is interested in it. If not, you need to find out what it is. It shouldn't be hard. If the student is really shy and reserved then you might have to find out a different approach(eventually you will get good at this and it will occur very quickly). Since CS and comics do not directly work together, you have to make a bridge for that student. If you don't know anything about comics you could get the student to bridge the gap for you.
E.g., Suppose you are studying operating systems and it is a very technical thing like a task switching on the 386. Well, your student is going to be more interested in comics than that, surely. But if you could, say, devise a way get him to combine the two then he will be more interested in learning the topic. If you wrap it up in a comic icing, it will be more likely to bite.
e.g., Ask him if he how he would create a character that would, say, be a computer. Maybe a specific comic episode would be some nemesis hacking in to his OS and planting a virus that hijacks the task switching.
or whatever. If you allow him to build off his own interests and merge them with other things that he is not too interested in(simply because he doesn't know about it enough to be), then he is much easier to bridge the two. Knowledge is not created but modified. We learn by building off what we already know, not by spontaneous emission.
So, for that particular student, his project could be to create a comic that uses the task switching principles in some creative way. The important thing is, that they must be correct(hence, he will have to research). If he doesn't seem to interested, you can show him that his comic book heroes put a lot of work in to researching their stuff when they write them, and that might make him realize it will require some work.
Another student will require some different approach. As a teacher, that is your job... and it is work and requires you to learn too(if, as a teacher, you are not learning, then you are not a teacher. Remember, everything is equal and opposite... yin/yang... balance). Humans are imitators. If a teacher is willing to learn then the students will see/feel that and also become better learners... having them "teach" is a good way to amplify that.
If the student seems like he works better in a group, then you could build a project taking that in to account. Utilizing each students strengths and balancing them with their weaknesses is the best way to learn. You do not work on your strengths, that is useless. Balance is the key, and to do that we must work on our weaknesses. This might involve some clever problem solving to get it to work. When you just stick kids together and tell them to do something, it rarely works on an individual level. One kid that is good at X does X and never learns Y. The other kid good at Y does Y and never learns X. You must get the first kid to do Y but he thinks he is doing X, the other kid facilitates the first kid learning Y and vice versa.
These types of things are true teaching. "Modern" teaching is broke and does the exact opposite of what is desired. Throwing information at students is useless because information is not the problem. If that were the case, then it would only take about 1 week for students to learn what they now spend months in a classroom trying to learn. They'd just read books and work a bunch of problems and then be "masters" of it. The problem is, they don't see any point in doing it and hence don't engage their full mental capacities to learn. Even those that are interested generally have issues that slow them down(e.g., bad at math because they are not interested in math but love CS... which they try to get stronger at CS but are weak at math and because CS is predicated on math, they never really can progress after some point. They actually need to love math just as much as CS and learn just as much and become balanced, then their rate of learning CS will become much faster... but then they hate English and reach that plateau and have the same problem).
So, in parting, I'd simply say, focus on the students and find a way(there is a way, it can be done). Your coworkers, if unwilling, will just slow you down and waste your time. They are far more corrupted than your students because they've been in the broken system far longer. If you come up with a way that works, they will eventually realize it and start to change. You can only change someone by example as very few can do so through logic alone. Give someone hope, purpose, and a means and they can change the world.
[This was all off the cuff so you'll have to not get bogged down in the grammar errors, etc. I'm to lazy to go back and edit, sorry.]
Edit: Additional thoughts about having students(or people in general, work in groups).
So, we know that each human being is has both unique/distinct and similar/identical characteristics. We also know that certain behaviors, traits, beliefs, experiences, etc complement each other and contradict each other.
These must be taken in to account as much as feasible to optimize the result(after all, what we are trying to do is develop an algorithm, a mathematical solution to a problem, albeit, a problem that is theoretically infinitely complex).
You could try to formulate something specific but I think, because of the complexity, you have to go mainly off instinct and "feel". Eventually you might learn certain patterns that work in general but I can't offer anything that would probably be of any use.
Because we cannot describe every characteristic each student(which, ultimately, this applies to humans in general, think of your own experiences both as a student, a teacher, etc), we can't even begin to understand how those different characteristics between each student interact(we obviously know some general principles such as two ego maniacs generally won't get along because they will fight for the singular spot of "leader").
So, what we really have is an experiment that must take place. I will try to describe what I would do if I were a teacher to optimize the students learning about life(since the actual subject matter is secondary and only is suppose to support that).
"Day 1" - I have N students. The first goal is to find the quickest solution to get to understand each one individual so I can make proper choices about them and how to do my job as effective as possible.
Also, each student needs to do the same.
So, I'd first explain this stuff to them saying why we are doing what we do. I'd explain about my self also. Basically this gives them a "model" to go by. I'd talk about my own life and experiences. I've be blunt and real about things. Sugar coating things doesn't help them. They will be full fledged "adults" soon so the better they understand what life really is the better off they will be. I'd try not to be boring and try only to hit the most useful points that will help them. Comedy is good but it has to be in moderation and not contrived. Also, it should involve movement. Take a walk. A classroom is inherently static, non-inspiring, and non-cerebral(generally speaking). If you want to engage them, you must engage their senses, we remember best when we "feel" it(meaning our senses are active).
So, this sets everything up and lays a foundation. Humans are inherently very perceptive and will pick up on all behaviors and traits, then filter them. While, we can't be perfect, we can do a better job than what is usually done(just imagine all the teachers you had that didn't doing anything for you vs the ones that did. The ones that did were doing something better than those that didn't, on some level... at least. But, of course, your own view is distorted so don't ignore the ones that didn't, they might have effected someone else with a different personality in a good way).
I'd then break the students in to large groups. Here, the goal is to work on the principle that humans feel safer when in groups rather than when "all eyes are on me". (although extroverts generally like that, they will get their chance)
Here, a round table type of discussion could be had. Very informal but with purpose. e.g., about life, about learning the subject matter, etc. Allow students to acclimate to what is going and to become less defensive by interacting with those around them. Not a lot of time has to be spent doing this, it's purpose is less informational and more emotional(comfort), but things can be learned.
Then I'd break the group in to smaller groups and do similar things. Shuffling people around, observing. I'd continue this process in some form or another in to smaller ground(possibly one on one if time permits, but it is not necessary to go that small).
Then I'd have the students introduce themselves individually to the whole group and sort of do the same thing that I did in the first place. They can talk about their life, their goals, what they do for fun, etc. Take notes, this is where you get information to make more informed decisions. They are learning to be leaders, interpersonal skills, etc. Make it clear that awkwardness, embarrassment, etc are all normal but we learn to overcome these things by doing things that make us feel that way. You must try your best to make them feel comfortable so they can relax. Physical and emotional tension is not good because it cuts off both mental and physical capabilities(musicians know this well).
I'd also have a one on one with each student so I can learn specifics about them. This is where most of the relevant information(and previous ideas about them can be clarified or abandoned) comes from. Taking notes helps. You are more of a psychologist at this point trying to understand the individual problem of the kid and also trying to help them understand how to break out of their bad habits(in subtle ways).
The point of this method and order(rather than starting with the last first, which is wrong), is because it is logical with human behavior. Generally, most classes just through you to the wolfs. What this does is create more imbalance in an individual. If you are shy and introverted, you generally end up with more anxiety. If you are an extrovert, you become more of an extrovert. Balance is not achieved.
By starting with less tension, and because of human behavior/psychology, we can control the tension. While an introvert may still have some anxiety, it will be far less because they know the people around them better. They will be more comfortable in the long run. Extroverts will learn to listen a little more, since they generally do not have anxiety problem in groups, so it is not a big deal to them.
The whole point of the process is to form as much of an open channel of communication and equality as possible. Get try to get the students in to a mode of thinking that is beneficial to everyone around them. Kids are very smart, if you explain things to them properly(that is logically, possibly with real evidence), they will except it(knowledge isn't about "understanding" but about acceptance/believe).
This may take a day, a week, a month to do and might be an ongoing thing. It is an investment that is worth far more than simply doing what most classes do which is try to get the material fed in to the students. Why? Because, again, the material is not the issue. We learn instantaneously when the right conditions are met, and we must meet those conditions before learning can take place.
Keep in mind two things: 1. I may speak in black in white sometimes but everything is a spectrum and everything falls somewhere in between the extremes. 2. The students have to be made aware of why things are being done differently from what they expect. This mentally prepares them for something new and will also excite them and allow them to behave differently. You must explain things, things that are not normally discussed in class(specially CS) such as mentality(why we behave the way we do), etc. You must also tailor all this stuff to be age appropriate and context dependent but the underlying foundation must be laid, regardless. 2nd graders need to be explained in wording that they understand while college students will require different explanations using different terminology, etc.
At some point one starts moving in to the point of the course, the material the students are expected to know. But having the proper foundation is key. What is the point of them learning if they use it for "evil" purposes, so to speak?
But if we have succeeded in our goals, that part should now be much easier, and for all time to come. They will benefit in their whole life. While, one could argue that such things should be done in preparatory classes and such, I think that is wrong. These are foundational problems that must be dealt with and because the educational system is so broke we must attack it head on. All the schooling in the world is useless if it's humanity dies off because everyone is killing each other over greed, ignorance, etc. Humans are already the most intelligent creatures on this planet but also the most reckless and hateful, so "education"(knowledge hoarding) is not really as important as many think. We already have the ability to basically solve almost all our problems, so formal education isn't really going to help us more than that... what humanity needs is education in the human element, so to speak.
Anyways, once such a system has been applied, students should feel comfortable around each other(more so, if not, then new techniques must be applied to create that effect) and be more open to ideas and learning and just about life in general. Once you get to that point, and can reduce the ego(which, for some students, and depending on age, you might have to spend extra time on the individual basis).
When students want to learn, they will learn, regardless if they are in groups or not. Any student that is imbalanced in X, if supported will become balanced. With technology today, a teacher doesn't really even have to teach... they must simply open the students mind in to the concept of learning. If you can excite the student to have the desire to learn, regardless if you teach them any "material" they will simply learn it on their own by getting on the internet and finding the information.
Therefor, that is why I think it is far more important to work on the psychological and social foundations first.. which are almost entirely neglected in the "modern" education system. No doubt because most teachers only partially know their subject material and hence, are also clueless as the students about what really is going on. Hence they just stand up in front of a chalk board or computer screen and imitate what they experienced as a student rather than trying to understand their true purpose in the human experience. I'm not condemning these people, but simply pointing out that they are products of a broken system so too are broken. Some of us get it, I think you are one. Simply do your best and never give up, regardless of the masses that want you to join them. If you fail, you fail and are no different, but if you try you have a chance of more success and are helping build something that will get humanity in to a much better place than what it currently is(and which the greatness that we have achieved is due to people like us that existed in the past and paved the way for us... The current state of affairs is unfortunate but not due to the ones that tried but due to the ones that didn't).
Anyways, best of luck! ;)