Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Group Work

Ever since the kindergarten days of glueing cheerios to brightly coloured sheets of construction paper, I have been familiar with group work. Group work can be a positive learning experience in which you learn how to work with a diverse group of individuals. Group work can also be an exercise in frustration and futility, mainly because of the following group members:

1) The Misguided Enthusiast: The misguided enthusiast takes on an inordinate amount of the work load and with joyful abandon pilots the project, kamikaze style, in an unprecedented direction. Before it can be stopped, you are standing in the smoldering ruins of what used to be a presentation on refugees but mutated into a presentation on immigration.

2) The Apathetic By-stander: The apathetic by-stander drifted into your group like a ball of dust and, interestingly enough, shares the same level of energy, responsibility, and emotion as that ball. Ask them to contribute and they disperse in an apathetic cloud of evasion.

3) The Sincere Nodder: The sincere nodder looks up at you with their earnest eyes and with whole-hearted abandon nod their head at every single request you make of them. Then, with treasonous glee, the nodder malevolently and actively does absolutely nothing.

4a) The Iron-fisted Dictator: The Hobbesian sovereign of group work, the dictator refuses to acknowledge the concerns and questions of the rest of the group. With an iron will and a heart of stone the dictator directs each person in exactly what they must do. Revolution usually follows.

4b) The Bickering Dictators: The bickering dictators cannot agree on the direction of the project, resent eachother immensely, and stubbornly refuse to relinquish their positions of authority. Once again, revolution usually follows.

5) The Overworked Martyr: Usually an A student, the overworked martyr isn't too hard to work with until well after the project is finished. This is when the martyr brings to the teacher's attention the fact that they've done almost all of the work. Maybe they did, but they wouldn't let anyone else do anything of significance out of an irrational fear that the idiocy of their fellow group members would seep into their project.

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