The Importance of Group Work in Education
When I was in high school, and one of my teachers would ask us to form groups in order to do something, I would usually roll my eyes. Ironically enough, some of the best work that I put forth and learned from was done in a group work setting. By working with my peers towards a common end, I got things done much quicker and thorough than I ever did on my own.
I chose to research group work for this essay, because in my limited experience as a teacher, youth worker, and student, group work proves to be a most effective teaching method; when it is done successfully. To begin, I came up with four questions to ask myself in researching this project:
Why is implementing group work such a useful teaching method?
How does it best foster critical literacy?
How can it work to begin to dissolve the traditional labels of student stereotypes?
How does group work best benefit the inclusion path: incorporating both gifted and special needs students?
I have only been able to better understand the answers to these questions in the light of my limited experience, student talk, and professional writings. I do plan on being able to establish more of a concrete application of my philosophy within this short intern experience.
My philosophy of group work reflects my philosophy on classroom culture. I see the best classroom environment as one that is non-hostile towards the student; doing whatever it can to clarify and to understand their ideas and problems. In a setting such as this, the student will develop a certain autonomy in discovering their own learning styles, as well as in evaluating their own work. ìStudents who are authors in the English classroom are more than the writer of their own essays. Theyíre the designers, co-creators, of the learning that goes on. And as creators, they have both freedom and responsibility for the productóthe classroom structure. But for students to become authors and creators and speakers in the classroom suggests new roles for them and for other teachersî (Kutz 53).
Students need to talk.
Research shows that ìteacher talkî takes up 70-90% of class time. John S. Mayher figured out the statistics even if every students was able to talk in class; within a 45 minute period, if each member of a 30 pupil class talked for one and a half minutes a period, that would be seven and a half minutes a week. That hardly seems enough time to fairly contribute oneís own ideas to a class (Mayher 129). By developing their oral language abilities in the classroom, students will develop a ìpotential for overall knowledge and application of and in learning in all areasî (Mayher 248).
The most effective way of developing oral language abilities, and getting enough time to put them in to practice is by the use of group work. ìComing to know is an active process in which the learner must be engaged in acts of discovery and inquiry, and, as Vygotsky has shown, this process always...