So many great observations against (and for) group work in learning in Cath’s post. I too remember hating having my creativity stifled in school having to work and depend on others for my success. And what about that tedious process of having to chase peers who wouldn’t pull their finger out for the greater good? However, the laughs to be had from working within a group can sometimes make up for the other frustrations.

Cath’s experience of group work as an adult learner at the Open University sounds very similar to our Adult Education Editor’s, Tim – and is probably familiar to many others too, he says. See what you think. Take it away, Cath. Ed

We’re encouraged, in our lessons, to get our pupils to work in groups. There’s generally a presumption that pupils will enjoy it, and develop all sorts of skills – being able to lead, act as a team member, cooperate, discuss…you name it!

Is this true, though?

What started me thinking about this a bit more was in fact my experience as a student, rather than a teacher. The Open University is keen to encourage its students to work collaboratively on various things, either face-to-face at the (sadly largely disappeared) residential schools, or online.  It is, I think, safe to say that this is really not popular in general. Whilst many who’ve gone on residential schools (including me – I’ve done six) have a great time and are happy to work with others in that setting, there are quite a number of other students who have done their damnedest to avoid residentials, sometimes even changing their degree course to do so.

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