Monday, 19 September 2011

Snobs Anonymous

Me:  'hi, my name is Roy and I'm a snob.'
Group:  'hi Roy'
Me:  'I'm still kinda nervous admitting this, but I hate group work, and the irony of being here is killing me.'
Group:  'We were all where you were once.  Relax, we're here to help.'
Me:  'And I really need to change this.  I won't be able to assign group work with a clear conscience until I get over this hurdle.'
Group:  'Just remember the affirmations and you'll be fine.  Learning is a collective process.  Trust in your group mates and have faith that the end result will make everything worthwhile.'

One of my greatest concerns when entering teachers' college was the amount of group work that would be required.  Group presentations, group reports, group meetings, group ....  Suddenly I had visions of the past groups and the members that I had issue with:
  1. The apologist.  The one who arrives late for meetings, doesn't complete the task assigned on time, but usually has 'legitimate' reasons
  2. The opportunist.  The one who knows some members are driven to get good marks so will happily coast along
  3. The minimalist.  Always gets things done, but never really pushes beyond what's necessary
  4. The inspirationalist.  The one who has a completely different spin on the article to the point where many question if it was the same source, and wishes to move the group in a counterproductive direction.
  5. The born leader.  The one who must run the meeting and control the agenda.
Me:  I'm a lot of 5 with a dash of 4 here and there.  And if I root around deeply enough, I'll find a little of all 5 at some time or another.  Myers-Brigg had no issues classifying me as an Introverted Thinker as I max out the scale on both accounts.  I just have this belief that despite my understanding that the synergistic approach of group work results in a better product, the hassles that group work represents in my mind leads me quickly to the 'I wish I could just do it myself' corner.  Many would call me selfish ... and I cut my philosophical teeth on Ayn Rand so I can't deny it.  (I'd best add that Nietzsche changed my opinion fwiw).  And it comes down to one issue...

Trust.  When you set expectations for yourself such as I do, and you don't willingly accept the 'shoot for the moon and land amongst the stars' sidestep, it's tough to trust that others will try to live up to your expectations when you know that you can't realistically achieve them yourself.  And when an introvert is thrust into an extroverted world, an uncomfortable world within which no semblance of control is possible, fears starts to creep in like ants to an unguarded bowl of sugar.  I'd really like to confirm that I have the answer to this personal Gordian Knot, but I'm not sure that it exists.  All I can do is try to partition the past and try to find my own group work Tabula Rasa.  And I sure hope that I'm able to.  Because, somewhere down the line, I'm going to meet a student with similar foibles, insecurities and concerns ... and when I do, I'll be uniquely qualified to give an honest and convincing argument.

Failing that, I'll go back to my favourite Nietzchean philosophy, Amor Fati.  My version has always been:  There will be successes in life and there will be failures.  There will be things in the past that you might want to change, things that you can accept, and things that are ideal.  But deep down, you have to love the life that the fates handed you ... every error and every checkmark ... not by whitewashing over the past, but by accepting and loving your life to such a degree that you wouldn't want to change a thing.  For to do anything else is to deny those influences that made you who you are, and therefore, to regret your existence.

(someday in the future, I'll likely move my inside voice posts to private.  But for now, I'd much rather leave these nasty bits hanging around with the hope that someone else who's facing a similar issue might find a nudge in the direction that they wish to move)

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