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Life

Group Class Work, or Hand Me the Noose

If you have taken a college course, you understand there are unspoken rules. For one, the professor will always be late. Next, anyone who sits in the front is definitely an ass-kisser (I sit in the front so shut up). Also, if you sit near the door, it will be your job to “get the lights” from that point forward. The seat you pick on day one is marked with your scent; when someone else sits there you will feel the fire of hell rage in your blood – you won’t do anything about it, but you’ll want to.

And there will always – always – be group work.

Group work is the bane of my educational existence. When the syllabus is passed out, it’s the first thing I look for. But watch out, for sometimes professors are sneaky. On Week 7 the syllabus might read that your 10-slide PowerPoint on The Sand Child by Tahar Ben Jelloun is due. No Late Work Accepted. Well, gosh, that’s not too bad. A PowerPoint is eezy-peezy!

But no. Suddenly your glee is shattered when the professor says: “Sorry, guys, the syllabus has a misprint on Week 7. The PowerPoint project is a group activity. So go ahead and break off into groups of four…”

These are times it would be nice to have brought a flask to class. Or a noose.

I’m by no means an introvert. I’m not frightened of group work. I’ve met some really interesting people this way. But it NEVER FAILS: there is always that One Student who slacks off. That One Student who has more excuses than a six-year old with chocolate smeared across his face. That One Student who is taking the class as an elective and Just Wants it The Fuck Over With. Sometimes it’s two students.

I get it. I do. An elective class is basically bad sex, with text books.

This semester I had to do the exact PowerPoint project listed above. Even with COVID destroying everything, like in-class activity, it didn’t manage to bring group work down with it. Via text I had to join forces with three 19-year olds with selfie-ready school profile photos and jaunty emojis in their messages. “OMG!” “LOL!” *insert eye roll*

We knew for two months this project was due. We picked the book. Two weeks prior, one of my teammates – let’s call her Sandy – began a Google Slide document. I started it. She added to it. I edited, so did she. For a week we spruced up our presentation with photos, quotes, themes, and analytical content. It was a thing of beauty. Our other two teammates graced us with a text or two, but they may as well have just farted into the ether.

The day before the project was due, I was ready to cut a bitch. Sandy and I did everything. I sent one last group text that read: “This is done and I’m sending it in. It would have been nice if Sandy and I didn’t have to carry this whole thing, but I guess she and I don’t have bitch-ass shoulders.”

Project sent. Grades dispersed. My complaint to the professor was worthy of a Pulitzer. Did anything come of it? Who knows. In the past I always let it go, so sending the email was a big step. I’m not looking to ruin academic careers here, but I sure as hell hope karma wants to cut a bitch once in a while.

Or hand out nooses.