Thursday, October 21, 2010


...Group Projects! *yelled with a frustrated roar, like Charlie Brown**

I can't stand group projects. I'll bet this animosity can be used as a pop "psychological test" to assess my self-esteem/ my impatience/ my competitiveness/ my ability to work well with others. I hated them as an undergraduate and, now back in school, I am completely reminded of why they drive me nuts. They're right up there with partner work in yoga class (there's the yoga tie-in).

I can totally see the pedagogical value of both: students learn to cooperate, they can to do more work than they would alone, the teacher can see them in both leader and follower mode, there aren't as many final projects to grade (or asana to oversee). Check with me in a couple of years, and maybe I'll be won over.

But, for now, they make me feel at the mercy of other people's work habits. And hog-tied to their issues with deadlines. I get it, this is what working with young people is like, but my old brain cells don't bounce back from a lack of sleep like theirs do. I can't think about pig dissection at 6am when trying to proofread a final draft before printing. And I certainly don't have patience for paper jams at that hour.

I like working with other people. I like sharing ideas and debating. But then I like to hole up with my books, paper, and computer and digest all of it by myself. I like the energy of a group class and seeing a teacher's take on a pose or series. But then I just want to do it alone, in my own space on my mat.

Selfish? Individualistic? Just a grump? There are plenty of group projects in my future (why, there's a lab report next week), so I'm taking any attitude-adjustment you folks can pass out.

How do you get through a project or partner work with a smile...or at least a sense of well-being? What am I missing?


Bob Weisenberg said...

I'm exactly like you, Brenda. I would always prefer to work alone.

No way around it except to take it as an interesting challenge, try to enjoy the relationships, and focus on results.

Another thing you can do is early on divyy up tasks so you can each focus on a more separate part of the project, while still being a good team member.

Bob W.

Rebecca said...

I cannot tell you how much I feel your pain right now. I swear the best part about law school was no group projects. Like you, I loved the classroom setting, the debate, etc., but my exams were all my own. My papers were written by no one but me. I still prefer that when working, but the real lawyer life is vastly different.

On the mat, however, I'm more accepting of partner practice. One of my old teachers used to always make us do partner work, and I HATED it, and then I did YTT. Now I understand it. One day, on a beach in Mexico with my fellow YTT students, we did a circle where we each balanced on one leg and held the lifted leg of the person beside us. At that moment, I got it. I cannot do that pose on my own, but with the help of my friends it worked effortlessly.

Maybe one day, I will get there in the legal profession, too. Until then, it's back to school for me . . . in New Zealand.

Emma said...

Oh dear I hear you on that. I had a group project to do , including presentation, for my evening business course earlier this year. A business plan, one of the most interesting subjects in the world, no less.

My inner control freak almost took over the entire thing, but I remembered to breathe, step back, and let people express themselves even though they were not doing it the way I would have done it. A very nice reminder to let go and not be too attached to one's ways.
Don't know if that helps :D

Anonymous said...

I'm with you....I haven't had to do a group project in years but I hate partner work in yoga class... I will ask a new teacher if they do partner work before I take there class(and will not go if they do) and I never teach partner Yoga

Jenn said...

You are not alone! I hated group work. Yes, I like to learn as a group, talk about it, but then give me my space to do the work. The other day my 3rd grader brought home a worksheet that had questions that were meant to help determine her learning style. There were several questions about group work vs. working alone...according to her answers, she prefers working alone. Interesting. Apparently our preferences start early.

Good luck with your group :)

Kristin said...

Oh, I do so feel for you! I absolutely despise group projects AND partner work (unless it's a yoga training session specifically geared to working with partners for adjustment purposes - and I know it ahead of time).

Jenn noted that our tendencies appear at a young age - I have on my kindergarten report card (in essence) "does not play with others". The teacher even called my parents in because she was concerned I was playing too much by myself!

Not sure that I have any advise to give with copeing - group dynamics are so intergral that sometimes I just sit back and other times I assert myself.

I like what Bob noted - try and enjoy the moment and focus on the end result. The discomfort is just temporary.

Best of luck to you!

Y is for Yogini said...

Oh, group projects. How I dislike thee! I'm a major control freak perfectionist, so you can see how depending on others, etc. is a stretch. :) I'm a lone wolf and I love working by myself.

In college, we had group project after group project. I swear, it was some sort of evil professor plot hatched years in advance. Anyway, I had to eventually accept it. And although my coping mechanism was to always step up as the group leader (so I could make certain we got an A), I did learn how to tolerate others better and wound up being good at drawing out the shy people and motivating others. Whaddya know? ;)

TheVeganAsana said...

I don't love them either - also having that perfectionist streak. But, they are such a good representation of what any sort of job is like that it's hard to overstate the value. We always end up working with people that don't pull even weight. Sometimes, if you do less, they will do more. Sometimes, you can't do anything but breathe and get through it.