Group projects…when those two words are mentioned together, I feel a burning chill crawl down my spine and overflow into my whole body. I cringe at the very idea of having to work with other people. I often find myself asking, “If I am completely capable of doing an assignment by myself, why am I forced to work with people who 1) I don’t really know that well or 2) are slackers/can’t get the job done to the exact measures that I desire?” (My apologies to most of the people I’ve worked with on group projects, but this is how I really feel 🙂 )
I think that the answer to my question lies within the question.
Part 1) “Ugh! I don’t know the people that well!” Many times, when I’ve been placed in a group with people I don’t really know too well or talk to, I end up really enjoying being a part of the group. A current example of this is my group for an ongoing teaching project for AP Language and Composition. I knew my teammates, but I didn’t know them too well and this made me nervous to work with them. As we started working together, I started to grow much more comfortable around them and I quickly saw how their strengths corresponded to my weaknesses and vice versa. I soon realized that if I am always in a group with friends or people I know well, I won’t grow. I would end up afraid of branching out and interacting with others.
The real world is full of situations, such as advertising companies who are approached by various businesses, in which people must work towards a goal with unfamiliar people. New people = new ways of thinking and ideas and group projects allow us to embrace that, not be afraid of it.
Part 2a) “OMG, they are such slackers!” This is a tough situation. I have been in several groups with slackers and though most times, everything turned out fine, it was because the non-slackers of the group took all the work upon themselves and the slackers got off scot-free. I think that with each slacker comes an opportunity to try to change someone’s work ethic and grow more aware of your own.
The slacker situation presents an opportunity to encourage our teammate to be a part of something potentially amazing. If this doesn’t work, this situation also allows us to focus on ourselves. We already have examples of slackers outside the realm of school, for example, deadbeat parents, and corrupt, lazy governments . I have always thought that if we can see how detrimental slackers are to reaching a goal, we can make sure not to become one. Dear reader, the curse of the slacker is one that I would never wish upon you, however, it does happen, and when it does, be prepared (lol, I make it sound like the apocalypse is near).
Part 2b) “OMG, they’ll never get it done correctly!” There is a difference between being part of a group that really does have slackers or just being controlling. If you’re worried that your teammates won’t get the project done to your standards, you’re right. Being a master of this mindset has truly showed me that each person has different elements to attribute to a team, thus, it is pointless to think that there is only one way to do a job. If we realize this, we allow for each person’s ideas to be represented in the resulting work, and every member is in someway made a part of the project. I think that this is a special phenomenon because isn’t this what unity is about? Isn’t a large aspect of unity ignoring your own desires, acknowledging everyone’s differences, and utilizing those different skill-sets to work towards a common goal, that in the end, has not fulfilled your standards perhaps, but the standards of true partnership?
So while the thought of group projects has often been the undoing of my sanity, I think that in the long run, they really do help each member grow in the way they think, be challenged and unite in a way that can result in true greatness.