As a homeschool student I never really learned the concept of group work, group learning, or group living. It’s odd because, looking back, I thought I was the master at those skills simply because we did so much as a family. For example, I dissected a frog with a total of eight hands (well, technically, I chickened out), so I thought I’d done group work.
Additionally, I thought it was the public schoolers who were the most self-determinate and independent. This independence was the fostering place of bad ideologies like feminism (I can live without a man) and humanism (I can do it all myself) and secularism (the best and smartest win), I thought. We worked together; submitted together; shared rooms together. We – homeschoolers – were cool in the group department.
I thought this, that, and the other.
But the thing is, I had no idea how to work in groups outside my family, or how to live among those drastically different. I was not well-socialized for working in groups. At all. Period.
It all collasped on me in college. First it was the freshman research project, where we had to do a research paper in the class. I ended up rewriting what everyone said, in my own words, because I was a perfectionist and could not stand the discontinuity. I also was just grumpy at the whole project. Then it was chemistry, and my project partner, who failed all the quizzes, made As on all the projects because I did them all. I was really bitter about it because it brought her up to a B in the course.
Then it was a technology and education course. We studied about how group projects were “better,” and read *about* educators (not the original educators, but SECONDARY SOURCES) like John Dewey. Just hearing the name John Dewey made me angry, and to make matters worse, the teacher didn’t even know that part of the reason John Dewey was pro-group learning was because “individuals spoil the collective harmony of society.” I dropped out of the entire education program. I’M DUMB AS ALL GET OUT.
(Conversations I’ve had: “Lana, why don’t you have an education degree?” “Well, I believed group learning was evil. And I hated John Dewey because he was socalists.” Hey, not everyone has such awesome excuses as me.)
Then came my last semester. I was taking an upper-level Critical Theory course, which came with the package deal of “hardest class, hardest teacher.” I stayed out of the group study, and studied alone, and was the only student to study alone. As I said, I don’t do group study.
After the first test I made the highest grade in the class. And this is how my teacher congratulated me.
“hey, Lana, you remember what Karl Marx said, don’t you?”
“hmmm” I hated the name Marx.
“Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen! To each according to his ability, to each according to his need! Lana, you have been given great talent in this area; it’s your responsibility to share with those who don’t.”
“What?? You make the tests harder than all get out so it takes a tribe to pass everyone!”
So I did it. On test number two, I wrote up all I knew about the philosopher the classmates assigned to me. And I got basically nothing useful in return, since the clasmates were writing up all they didn’t know the night before the test while I was already asleep. (If you’re a loner, you get to sleep more. Yay me.)
For the final exam, the classmates assigned me Derrida. DERRIDA. The most annoying poststructuralist on the planet. And it was three different works of Derrida, and I had to EXPLAIN IT ALL. I also had greatly slacked on my other courses that semester, and so I didn’t have time to study for critical theory. So I just wrote up explanations for one text, not all three, and said I did not have time for the others. Immediately I got emails back from two other classmates, saying I was being unfair. UNFAIR. Because they were going to email me all their parts (which were ten times as easy as Derrida). They said I should be taken off the list. I was so pissed off.
This experience only reinforced my Republican upbringing. Share your knowledge, and people get all edgy and entitled on you.
But the thing is, I may be good at critical theory, but I suck at so much, such as computers, cars, organization, fixing anything, WORKING IN GROUPS. Oh, and science. I’m still a science idiot who got an A in chemistry thanks to the dumb projects I hated.
What I’m saying is my teacher was right. We kind of do need each other. We even need people not in our family.
So now when I hear parents say all homeschoolers are awesome working together, or saying all peers create bad peer pressure, Duggars-are-awesome-because-they-are-family-people first kind of thing, I want to bang my head against the wall. Being socialized in groups isn’t all bad. It may not be all a bed of roses, either, but when you never work in a group other than say, dissecting a frog with people you live with, well, it comes back to bite.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who hates group work!