Friday, September 09, 2005

Group Work Blues

I'm currently enrolled in a web-based World Literature course at a small community college in the Gulf Coast area of Texas. I absolutely LOVE literature, so it is not the subject matter that has me is the "groups". I know that I'm an "older" student [though not much older than some of the others in the class] and have had a lot more experience out in the world, but I was really hoping to be exposed to some interaction with free-thinking, even exciting, young people. Boy, was I ever wrong! Our current assignments have us reading passages, commenting on our readings by posting responses in small groups, and submitting those responses online for the comments of the rest of the class. Can you guess how those comments are going? "Nice job." "Good point." "I totally agree with your assessment." Where's the excitement in that? Where are the comments that reflect what I'm thinking? Where are those comments like "What were you thinking?", "While your arguments were well-expressed, I TOTALLY disagree with your stand.", and the ever-popular "Sorry dude, but I think your answer was pure baloney."? Well now I'm in a real pickle. If I express my TRUE thoughts to the class, I will automatically become the outsider; the woman in the do-you-remember-that-old-lady-who-wanted-to-argue-with-everybody comments; the one who gets on everyone's nerves. [I know this because I actually responded by expressing some disagreements on the very first assignment, and I was the only one to do so.] My gosh...I was actually hoping someone would disagree with me so we could get some debate going! I've decided there's only one way to handle the situation...capitulate, conform, and play the game their way. If you happen along on the most boring discussion of "The Role of the Gods in The Iliad" you've ever seen, you'll know it's from my class. And feel free to look for my boring (lying) responses along with the others', because that's exactly where they'll be. "Nice job. Well thought-out. Really good work!"

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