Teaching teamwork

I think getting the students to work in teams, particularly in their first term is a good idea – socially. Thereafter I am far from convinced. The worst teams I ever participated in were during my team as a mature masters student. Team marks were to be awarded and, as by far the most mature of the mature students, I took a North Korean approach to team dynamics – basically listen to me, do the work or die. It didn’t work, they didn’t do the work, so I did and we all scored highly. What did I learn? – some young people give a shit a lot less than some old people. Useful life lesson? Nope. When working in teams in the professional world the imperative of a common cause or being paid is the glue that holds the team together. That’s how and why the team comes to be created. In an educational environment, a team is either a group of friends, a random collection of odds and sods, a group constructed around some bogus skills criteria or a subliminal expression of the lecturer’s prejudices, hang ups or fantasies. The result is stressful, off putting, risky and usually  results in wildly inflated marks prompted by the lecturer’s relief  that the group did at least get through the process without needing the services of a psychiatrist. 

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