Group work

is terrible.

Why else would a classroom let out a great collective sigh after being told that the project is a group project?

Has there ever been a great collective sigh after a class is told that they need to bear all the responsibility of a project by themselves? That each individual is responsible for doing their own research, writing their own paper, creating their own presentation, and giving their own talk?

But “group work teaches communication.” What group work really teaches you is how hard it can be to not communicate to Kyle how gaudy his PowerPoint slides look.

Group work makes it easy to be let off the hook. Instead of thinking up novel ways to work around your limited skills and resources, you can just get Becky to work on this part – if you convince her.

Working with people you trust, people who’s idiosyncrasies you have no problem working around, that’s when group work creates great work. But this rarely happens. Better to improve at working solo.

And working solo is itself a skill that one can improve. It requires perseverance. It requires you to manage your attention, to cut out distraction, to think in novel ways to work around your limited skills and resources.

“I did this work myself” is a much better teacher than “a vague thirty-five percent of this work was mine, I guess.”

 

 

 

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