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The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The problem with projects

Whenever teachers assign me group projects instead of tests, I get the feeling that they think they’re doing me a favor. I cannot speak for the school as a whole (although I have many times in the past) but I am not a fan of projects of any kind, group or singular.

You see, projects require work. Studying for tests is optional. I have gone into many, many tests under the impression that, although I haven’t studied and I don’t understand what’s going on in class, I’ll be able to naturally pick out which answers are correct with my natural intuition.

It’s very easy to not put any work into studying for a test, because aside from getting a “SEE ME” written in red sharpie or awkward eye contact with your teacher when they hand you back your scantron, you don’t see their horrified response to your dismal lack of knowledge.

Nine out of ten times with projects, you have to present them to the class. So, if you don’t put the appropriate amount of time in for your project, you have that painful moment while you’re presenting when you look over at your teacher and he has that expression that says, “I’m probably going to recommend that you drop this class when this is over.”

Now, for solo projects I can handle that kind of criticism. It’s my fault, I’m the one that did all the work, and I’m the only one that deserves the blame. For group projects, things get messier.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because of the people. I love people. I go into every group project assuming that at least one person has a deeply motivated drive to do all the work without consulting me.

This does not work, because everyone else in my group always has a beautiful we-can-do-this-together! mentality and expects me to do my share of the work. Which I do, partially because I get caught up in that mentality and partially because I don’t want to be the one kid that everyone’s pissed at because they won’t do any work.

I try to just let everyone in the group do their own thing. This tactic sometimes works, but sometimes I’m up until midnight the night before the presentation trying to figure out what “manifest destiny” means because I didn’t communicate with any of my group members and I have no idea what’s supposed to be on the PowerPoint.

I’m not saying that teachers should eliminate big projects and just stick to tests and quizzes. I mean, that is something I would like but I’m pretty sure 80% of the students wouldn’t be happy with me if I somehow lead all teachers into an anti-project revolt.

A lot of kids love projects, most likely because they are more creative than me. When I am given the option of “poster board or other ideas” I always choose poster board. I have absolutely no other ideas, at least until I see someone else’s extremely creative project and realize that I totally could’ve thought of that.

But projects are effective because they force me to be creative and think beyond a simple essay or question format. Even though I’d be perfectly happy sticking with scantrons and never making another mock-news video project again.

They also help me with my huge fear of vagueness, because I immediately panic whenever teachers tell me to do “what I feel is
best” (which is very unhelpful because what I feel is best is whatever I feel you want me to do). Although I may hate projects with the passion of a thousand suns, I will admit that they help me learn skills that I wouldn’t be able to in a normal school setting (especially my acting skills, which I showcased particularly well in my role of Snape in the video, “Macbeth told through the story of Harry Potter”).

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