April 29, 2004
Group grief

Cecile duBois describes the grief of group rather than individual assessment.

I have a lab report due tomorrow. I should be happy that its a group project, and we share equally the load of work to do. But no - not in this situation.

Her problem is that the three others aren't doing their fair share, but the marks will be dished out as if they are.

I don't mind doing work - but when its four people's shares of work on my back working for the sake of not only my grade, but our grade, I do mind.

I recorded the data, typed everything out, printed everything out, stapled together as neatly as possible. But if science teacher is not pleased about a certain thing, if its not 'cute enough' or a number is missing in the data, your precious lab report will be torn in half in the trash.

Earlier, it was by sheer luck I wound up in groups with students who actually worked at least their share – and who actually knew what they were doing, math-wise.

I just hope I haven't lost my wits this time.

For the brutal truth is that …

… If I don't do the work, we all fail.

The lesser of two evils: allowing three idiots to keep me as their one-night homework slave than having us all fail. Yeah, I've got to pick my battles. At least they don't read this blog.

Or this one. [P]oindexter comments somewhat pompously (but he has a point):

it's important to learn teamwork and how to engage in collaborative projects - it's a given that others will be slackers and/or ill-suited for the tasks ... welcome to the real world! ... that's how adults spend most of their waking hours: either dodging their share of the burden, or being forced to overcompensate for others' shortcomings ... here's an opportunity for you to exercise true team-leadership and management skills, and learn how to get the job done - without whining, complaining, fault-finding, finger-pointing, etc. ... that's how you'll get to be the one who picks your own team! ...

But I reckon the way to learn teamwork is to join a real team, rather than a fake one put together in a classroom. This is why employers – in Britain anyway, but I bet it's the same in the USA – look for evidence of out of school activities of one kind or another.

I'm not sure exactly why things work so much less well with classroom teams than with teams elsewhere. Partly it is that the results of school work are entirely concentrated in the individuals to whom education is done. The results are not actually collective. Another reason may be that since group work is the exception in school rather than the rule, there isn't very much of it, and the rewards of shirking are liable to outweigh the punishments. As so often in this world, repeat business is the key, and with group work at school, there is less of that than there is in non-school world.

I like Cecile. I like her because when we met in London … I liked her. And I like her because when I said something nice about her, she put it permanently up at the top right hand side of her blog, which means that I am famous throughout the right wing teenage-o-sphere. So, because I like her, and because this blog needs pictures, here is a another picture of her I took in London:

cecile2.jpg

Technically this photo is all over the place, with red eye, and a blurry left side (as we look at it) of her face. But it gets her well, nevertheless.

The pictures on the wall? The owner of them is a good friend. He likes them.

UPDATE FRIDAY: And guess what. Without realising it, I posted all that on Cecile's fifteenth birthday. I must be psychic. Michael Jennings has another picture of Cecile at the same event.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 08:02 PM
Category: Examinations and qualifications