The teacher's job.
Not so long ago, especially in rural areas, there were classrooms
with one teacher responsible for teaching children aged between six and fifteen
years of age. All these students were in one room being taught by the one
teacher. Those were the 'old days'. The days of discipline, manners were
taught and practiced, politeness was the norm, literacy and numeracy was at its
peak. If the teacher was busy and a younger student needed help, an older student
was asked to pitch in and lend a hand for a little while. The older student was never
asked or made responsible for teaching younger students or students with
learning difficulties on a regular basis. This was the teacher's job!
These days outcomes based education
states that group learning must be achieved by all students. Most teachers found
this a wonderful opportunity for students to get together and learn from each
other as a team. Social integration was covered, the age segregation gap lessened
a little and this should have made everybody happy. Has it! How are high achievers
coping with their continued efforts of being responsible for the students with
learning difficulties. Is this one of the reasons so many bright children drop-out of school?
What is group learning?
Students grouped together working on usually one project. The group mostly consists of a fast
learner, a >students with learning difficulties, and two average students.
Who does it benefit?
More likely it would benefit students with
learning difficulties, but it could hinder a high achiever because that
student will be forced to learn at a slower pace. Group learning encourages
peer dependence, especially by the students with learning difficulties, because they become
dependent on others to do their work for them, which could become a serious problem for
the students with learning difficulties in the future. High achievers are often placed in a
responsible teaching position for getting low achievers to the end of the
project, this should be the teachers job not the job of another student. There
is nothing wrong with students helping each other but some of these group
learning projects are taken to the extreme with possible dangerous results of
students with learning difficulties being reliant upon others all the time.
Is group work as beneficial as what it is cracked up to be?
Teachers often give group
assignments and group grades to cover certain outcomes specified by the outcomes
based education system. Each student is usually given a different task. When
these tasks are put together with the other assignments, they make up a complete
project. No student will be required to do the entire assignment. That can be
very beneficial in a factory on an assembly line, but school is not a factory. Cooperative
learning does not accurately reflect students abilities and really deceives the
low achievers, when allowing the fast learners to do all the work and rewards
both of them the same. The fast learners are robbed of their reward just the
same as low achievers who are awarded for the little work done, receive a false self-confidence
of their ability which could lead to potential misconceptions in future
Does group grading cause dislike, dissatisfaction and impede high achievers?
Group grading could be troublesome and cause
resentment between students. Students know that specific grades for individual
work completed is fair, while the same grade for all is unfair. It could impede
high achievers and cause students with learning difficulties to rely on others to do their work.
School drop-out might be a serious predicament for high achievers who are not
justly graded and restricted to excel in the present system, mental frustration
will be exhibited, misbehaviour, drug use and even worse... despair.
Is it fair to give an entire class or group the same grade?
In my opinion, no! Group grading the high achievers who often work harder and faster than the
others receiving only the same grade, causes high achievers often to feel cheated,
cynical, disadvantaged, destitute..... name it what you like. They are often left with
a 'no satisfaction' feeling and attitude. The low achievers get the same grade,
feel good about themselves and have a false sense of achievement for work they
didn't really do. Deep down though they know this, but are usually contented to think that they
did alright, until they are placed in a situation were they have to perform, this is when the real
problem begins for them.
What happens next?
The low achievers finally pull through the education system, receive their bit of paper stating they are
competent to enter the workforce, obtain a job.... but what happens next? Who is
there to rely on to do the work for them! Soon the boss works out they are not
competent enough to perform the job set before them.
These low achievers who received their certificates and passed
the exams more than likely find themselves out of work or always between jobs.
What happened to the high achievers?
These students were bright, showed promise, they were creative, independent
workers. Many of these were dumbed down and dropped out of school at an early
age. Those who have a driving self-esteem and are supported by caring families
continue their studies outside of the current schooling system and acquired
qualifications from other independent sources. They obtain jobs and are esteemed
in the workforce because they can do the job. They don't rely on others to do
the work for them, they are independent, hard workers.
Other high achievers
though, have felt so down trodden and are so disgusted by the system they become
like the low achievers, having lost their drive for learning and the self-esteem they
once had. The desire to want to make something out of their lives has been driven away.
Once bright students, now have become a burden to society because they can't get a job or
worse... have lost the desire to want to work because they were taught in school
that ALL get rewarded the same. Whether they worked harder or faster, it made no
Are home schooled children robbed of their rewards?
Some educators are fair and grade accordingly. They are excellent and honest
tutors, respecting each student's achievement and rewarding them fittingly. Some
parents choose to teach their children at home and those children probably won't encounter
this problem, although it is possible for it to happen even in the home learning
environment. An older brother or sister can be kept back (dumbed down)
unwittingly by the parents, to help with younger brothers or sisters. Older
children should be encouraged to participate in certain learning activities of
their younger family members but they should never be made responsible for
regular teaching. This is the parents job!
My hope is that those responsible for
teaching children will treat each child as an individual, not as a group, teaching each one suitably
by working with their abilities and building upon them, rewarding each student
according to their achievements. Have group learning sessions... but don't overdo it!
Psalm 62:10-12 Trust not in oppression and become not vain in robbery. If
riches increase, set not your heart upon them. God hath spoken once;
twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God. Also unto thee,
O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.
© 2005 Griggs I. M. - Teaching Treasures Publications