Tuesday, March 09, 2010

This Writer Sees More Than Just "Dumb" In Group Work

She sees coercion and emotional manipulation, too. Read her somewhat incendiary views on what she saw at the November 2009 National Council for the Social Studies conference.

Collaboration, or working in groups, is a favorite pedagogical strategy of hung-over graduate teaching assistants, soviet indoctrinators, educators with advanced degrees, and social studies teachers too dumb to do anything else.

Unfortunately, by what I saw at the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference here in Atlanta, most social studies teachers are either wicked indoctrinators or too dumb to know that they are carrying out the wishes of the Dr. Evils in education, i.e., those with Ed.D.s who are administrators, curriculum devisers, and education professors.

Teachers seem to love “group work.” It gives them a sense of power over children and allows them to catch up on Facebook or their nails...

While much has been said about politically correct material, little attention has been paid to such emotionally coercive teaching strategies. I saw how it is applied to middle school students as a teacher shared teaching tips for getting tykes to sympathize with illegal immigrants.

Read her full report on the conference at Indoctrination without Apology: Social Studies Teachers Share Strategies on How to Mold Students. It's pretty amazing.


Polski3 said...

When I first started teaching Social Studies, I joined NCSS. That lasted about a year. I found that the vast bulk their material did not fit with what I was teaching (World History, Geography, Native American Studies and Free Enterprise (Intro to Economics). There was too much "group work," which I learned to try to avoid in my classroom very quickly in my career.....they speak of accountability, so where is the accountability for one or two students doing the bulk of the work and the others sitting and doing nothing and getting credit?

Later, I joined again. More in second post.

Polski3 said...

Part Two: I joined again several years ago, because their national convention was close to home and the price to attend was the same to join NCSS and attend the conference as a member as it was to attend as a "non-member." I believe I blogged about some of the sessions I attended. In a nutshell, the sessions presented by real classroom teachers were vastly superior and useful to those presented by white castle college of ed. profs and special interests groups.

In all, it was worth going. I glanced through the 60 pages missive you posted a link to; most of what she was pointing out was "stuff" that I would never attend at a conference because its not revelent to my teaching requirements (standards, etc) and as for the various speakers, publishers and special interests, well, you don't have to listen to them and enjoy the freebie pencils, pens and notepads from the special interests, etc. BTW, It was a wonderful experience to hear former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as a keynote speaker, and to get to question her about the Kehoe Decision. Thanks for the post Darren !

Ellen K said...

I hated group work as a student, because I always knew that I would end up with a couple of slackers who would end up with a passing grade because I gave a damn about my own. I hated group work as a parent when my son came home with a C on a group project where he was the only one who stayed up late, went to the library and did his part. I hate group work as a teacher because it saddles those kids who care with the marginal kids who would rather let others work for them. For all the touchy-feely nonsense about the appropriateness of group work-this emanates from the ideas of girl centered education-it sucks the joy out of work for many kids and frankly is not an accurate gauge of what students know. The only thing it does is give gifted students a taste of how they will have to carry the dead weights in the workplace. Maybe for that purpose alone, it is a valuable lesson.

CastoCreations said...

I'm not a teacher and my child isn't old enough for school yet. But I DO remember my school years...quite vividly.

There were a few group projects that I remember because they were fun. I was in almost all honors courses and in the 8th grade we had a group project to create a commercial for a product. I still remember the collaboration we went through. It was really fun.

On the whole, however, I do not enjoy group work. It does become important to know how to work in a group when you are in the working world though.

But it has to be balanced and my 8th grade honors class also had a lot of independent work alongside the group work.

I also vividly remember my Washington State History class - which was less History and more "victim" oriented, with a lot of 'white man' bashing. A lot of moral equivalency, which even at the time made no sense to me.

I do not look forward to my child's school years. :(

pseudotsuga said...

As a college English teacher, I just don't think group work is useful until the students have discernment and competence (3rd or 4th year, maybe).

Viki said...

to be blunt, group work sucks.
It ends up with my kid making the grade for the other kids in the group.
I find her AP U.S. History class to be a political indoctrination to the left and if a kid disagrees with what the teacher says then peer pressure exerts itself too.
This week she has had to listen healthcare reform rhetoric and the teacher also badmouthed the military.
I doubt any of this will be on that AP test in a few months.