Sunday, June 3, 2018

Group work

[Nancy, June 3, 2018.]

“Group work is good preparation for what it will be like to work in teams when you have real jobs,” Nancy’s teacher just announced. In the earlier-that-same-day final panel of today’s strip, another teacher tells Nancy’s teacher that she’s forgotten to plan for class: “Let’s just fill the time with group work.”

I don’t think I’ve ever known a student who favored group projects to be completed outside the classroom. I’ve heard too many accounts from trusted sources of projects in which one or two students ended up doing the work of the group. I have nothing against students splitting into small groups in class, say, to read and talk about a piece of student writing. But I know that even the reading-and-discussing-in-class can be an easy way for an instructor to take some time off from teaching (and sit grading papers).

I always liked asking students to realize that they’d been doing “group work” all their lives. Being a member of a family, of a circle of friends, of an organization, being a resident of a dorm: that’s all group work. And I still agree with what Richard Mitchell wrote in The Graves of Academe (1981): “It is only in a mind that the work of the mind can be done.” As anyone stuck with doing the work of the whole group can attest.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)
Models for education (“Sage on the stage,” “guide on the side”)
Review: Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift

[The last sentence of this post: a joke. I do believe in the possibilities of collaboration.]

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