We all had to do group projects in school. They are a fact of life it seems. Teachers seem to be obligated, for some odd reason, to make us work with the other human beings in our class. Group projects for some are happy times, and for others are trying ones.
There are four categories of people in group projects. The first is the slacker. You have all met him. He is the one that doesn’t do any work and still takes credit for whatever grade you got. If you haven’t met one of these people, then it means that you are one of these people. The second person is the semi-slacker. The semi-slacker is the person who will work, but will only do the bare minimum, or only exactly what their group members tell them. The third person is the hard worker. They work hard and get the job done right, and make sure it is good enough for an A. These are good people. You want them in your group. Finally, there is the fanatic. This is the person who works incredibly hard and makes sure that everyone is doing their job. They micromanage everything. They make up for the lack of stress that the slacker and semi-slacker feel by feeling tons of stress. If this amount of stress were experienced by anyone other than a fanatic, they would have to go on vacation for several months of R&R. The fanatics work so hard that when peer review time rolls around, even the hard worker is worried that they will get a bad grade on it.
So why do teachers give group projects? Is it so that they have less to grade? Is it so we can use everyone’s mind to come up with something even better than we would have by ourselves? All adequate reasons, but not the right ones. Teachers give group projects to force us to learn how to work together. Group projects teach us how to deal with slackers and semi-slackers. They teach us how to get the fanatics to relax. They teach us to finish a giant project at the last minute when other people have neglected to do their work. The real world is full of these people, in our jobs, in our communities, among our friends. People are everywhere, we have to learn how to deal with them.