Friday, September 6, 2013

Pondering the Merit of Group Work

So. Group Work.  ...Why does this exist?

It's almost as if every teacher on the planet thinks that the one thing that's more important than the subject they teach is the ability to work in groups. Not only that, but they must feel like they're the one who has to teach this valuable, impossible-to-learn-anywhere-else skill to their students because there's absolutely no way that they could possibly learn that skill anywhere else ever. At all.

Or maybe they think that the only way that anybody could possibly learn anything about the subject they're trying to teach is to force them to cooperate with other students so that they don't have any distractions keeping them away from that valuable learning. Because that's totally what happens whenever anyone assigns group work.

What lessons do you really learn from group work, though? I mean, I guess there's the lesson that trying to coordinate with other students is a pain in the ass, and there's the valuable skill of learning to deal with the disappointment that comes when somebody else can't fucking pull it together and get some fucking work done and you're the one who has to pay for it.

There's also the lesson that when you split up work into parts and have each student do their share, you don't learn anything about what they focus on because you're too busy trying to learn your own stuff. Oh, and you do learn how to bullshit your way through a presentation with pretty pictures and roundabout explanations. You also learn how to shift the focus onto your partners when you can't answer a question, which can always be helpful.

But what all do you learn about the subject you're supposed to be presenting about?


To be honest, I'm not entirely sure.