So I’m taking a humanities class this semester, LAS-432: Technology, Society, and Culture. I was looking forward to it until I saw the syllabus: 80% of our grades are based on a team project. Great.
Now, it’s not that I hate people (I only hate most of them), or that I don’t want to work with others; it’s that I have a perfect GPA, I just received my Dean’s List letter, and I am hell-bent on wearing that cord and graduating Summa Cum Laude. I’ve never been on the honor role more than a couple of semesters in high school, and I want to know what it feels like to actually do well in school.
My problem is that my grades now depend on four other people, who have varying degrees of motivation, ability, and intelligence. I am not okay with the idea that my GPA is now in their hands. I know at least one of my teammates is okay with B’s, one B on my record, and I can’t graduate with highest honors. I am absolutely terrified.
Am I a perfectionist? Yes. Am I holding these people to my ridiculously high standards? Yes. Is that okay? No, not really. As unfair as it is that these people affect my grade, and everything I’ve been busting my ass for, it is equally unfair that my obsession with A’s is now being forced upon them. Some people aspire to mediocrity, and if that’s what they want, that’s their business. Far be it from me to ask that they give their very best to ensure I preserve my grade. I’m sure it would be much more fair if I were to lower my expectations for my entire degree, rather than insist they submit their best work for one eight-week semester.
The problem is that in these types of situations, unless you group people according to performance level, someone is going to lose, especially now that American’s are of the belief that everyone should go to college, regardless of whether or not they are actually capable of doing the work. Do you know why jobs that require high school degrees pay so low? It’s because nearly everyone has one. Do you know what will happen if everyone went to college? It’s not that all of those people will be able to raise their station in life and get better jobs, it’s that those jobs will go to whomever is willing to take the lowest salary, because college degrees will flood the market.
So now we have people in college that, frankly, have no business being there. I’m not picking on them, before I had to get out of the Navy, I didn’t plan to go to college, because I’d already tried it once and it was entirely too difficult for me at the time. I wasn’t going to go to college and get C’s and D’s. To me, that’s a massive waste of time on everyone’s part, and money on mine. I didn’t realize my problem was motivation, not intelligence. But the problem is that when people deficient in both decide they need to get a degree, and then get placed into a class that requires team work, and then put on my team, I get pissed off. I don’t like the idea that my college career is now in the hands of other people. People that won’t even respond productively to my e-mails.
I have now sent two e-mails this week (class started on Monday evening). One outlining our respective responsibilities, with a few suggestions for how to get the different parts done, and this last one about this week’s assignment, due before class next Monday. We each have to research separate areas of our topic and write a one-page paper with at least two references on our findings. So I sent the e-mail of the different areas, and asked who would like to do what.
Nothing but nothing, except for two responses about the first sentence of my e-mail, which was about how I couldn’t access the course shell online, but had saved copies of the syllabus on my hard drive. Guaranteed, my classmates think that they won’t have to do the assignment because a) they can’t access it, and b) we have to submit them in the shell, and if we don’t have access, we can’t do that either. What they don’t know is that I know better. This is a blended class, so we also meet on site. We can hand in paper copies, and there is absolutely no excuse not to get the work done. If we don’t, even if we don’t get points deducted, it only hurts us because our weekly assignments build off of each other!
So I will most likely be choosing my own topic, and writing my paper today, I’ll let them know which one I’m working on so that they don’t do double work (ha ha…) and I’ll e-mail a copy of my paper when it’s done. If I don’t hear from them by Saturday, I’ll be contacting the professor and expressing my concern.
Regardless, I will be writing the Dean of Studies and explaining, in painful detail, why classes like this only serve to cause unnecessary frustration to everyone involved. I understand the need to work together, but when you put my livelihood in someone else’s hands, they’d better deliver, or I’m coming for you…