By Peter Currier
It always seems to work out the exact same way; there is that one overachiever who does a vast majority of the work and memorizes the topic as if they plan on it being their college major. Then you have the guy who just wants to get a B and does a relatively normal amount of work. And then there is that guy, you know the one I’m talking about, the guy who sits there and does next to nothing and rides the wave of success created by his fellow group members. And when it comes time to present the project, he sits there not knowing any of the information and acts as if you just asked him to read the Qur’an, front to back, in Latin.
This is a typical high school group project scenario.
For some, it’s a great opportunity to work with friends and hopefully get an easy A. Others would rather be trapped in a room with a guy on PCP who is wielding a rusty shovel. Personally, I have been all over the spectrum. Admittedly, sometimes I am the slacker who does nothing and drags the group down with me. Other times, I end up being the overachiever who does most of the work. In my honest opinion, I hate being in both situations.
The very idea of an entire group getting the same grade for a project makes absolutely no sense. That would almost be like giving a prisoner the same reward as the person who gave the information that led to his arrest. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten an unsatisfactory grade for a group project that I have poured my heart and soul into. It’s just a waste of time if you ask me.
Of course, there is always the most excruciatingly painful part of a group project: choosing your partners. Whenever I hear, “I am going to choose your groups for you,” all I can think is, “Great, now I have to work with people who I probably don’t know and, by the looks of things, will do as little as possible.” On the flip side, when the teacher says, “You may choose your own groups,” I immediately think, “Damn it, I don’t know anyone in this class and I’m way too awkward to meet new people.”
Of course there is always that classic line the slacker always says, “I’ll email you everything tonight.” He says that, only to leave you waiting up until midnight, the night before the project is due, and you never get that promised email. The next day is usually the same, “Why didn’t you email me last night?” “Whoops, sorry, I forgot.” No no it’s perfectly fine that you forgot. Everyone forgets things sometimes. It’s not like I need at least a B in order for my parents to think I am trying in school. It’s not like we lost 10 percent of our points because you couldn’t be bothered to participate in the supposed group effort.
Yes, what a wondrous thing group work is. Teaching you to work with people (who you hate) in order to collectively acquire information on a certain subject (that some people refuse to help with) so that you may be scored based on the quality and quantity of your work (that somebody in the group lacked the effort to contribute to). It is by far the most useless activity you can try to do in school, because no matter how much effort you put into the project, your grade depends on somebody else.