Okay, I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking I’m about to go on a lunatic rant about that one time the 7th gradebiology teacher had us do group work, and I did all of it and only got a portion of the grade.
And you’d be… not completely wrong.
Back then I considered a love for group work the province of mediocre teachers. It was slightly above “Call me first name” or “you’ll teach me more than I teach you” but on a par with “the class will vote on your grade.” (What? You think I’m joking? Laughs in “you must not have gone to school in a revolutionary socialist country. I hated that with a purple passion on account of being obnoxious and widely disliked. I eventually found out threats, early and often got me the As I had actually worked for, but I still hated it muchly.)
By the time I was 11 I had two ways to deal with group work: If forced into a group with pudding heads, I told them I’d do all the work, we’d have an A, please for the love of Bob – Heinlein – smile and shut up. Nine times out of ten this worked. The tenth they insisted on attempting to think and hurting grade. (And filling the classroom with a burnt smell.)
The other way to cope with it was to throw fits and sulk until the teacher let me pick my own group.
Then pick my fiends who then as now, tended to be creative geniuses.
This last often produced sublime results. I think it’s what the better teachers were aiming for. There is only one problem with that: you have to know your group, and be on the sort of terms with everyone that you can say “no, that’s crap. Try this.” without terminally breaking the working relationship.
So, what is this in the name of?
What you’re looking at is any bureaucracy. Any bureaucracy ends up being group work, and unless you are high up (and in the US not even that, if you’re a GOP president, because they’ll scream bloody murder) it’s with “randomly assigned functionaries.)
Now bureaucracy was “invented” in the west by Louis XIV, an autocrat who could remove you because he didn’t like the way you tied your cravat. (And what removing meant you don’t want to know.)
It worked well for a structure with a smart and ruthless leader. (For a value of well, and for a certain size of country. I have personal opinions on Louis XIV. I ain’t gonna go down that rabbit hole. (And you think you have beefs with Lincoln!))
It works horrendously for a government where the heads and nominal heads change every few years. Not only are we being governed by group work, we’re being governed by perpetual self-aggregating eternally self maintaining group work.
One in a hundred might be the kind of person who does the work anyway and tells everyone else to shut up. The rest? Some of them, heaven help us, are trying to think. The rest are trying to look good for teach/party line.
So, what can be done about that? Isn’t bureaucracy needed?
You know…. I don’t think it is. Not at federal level, in a country the size of ours. The vast array of federal bureaucracy should be dismantled for everything, and devolve to the lowest possible level at which things can be run: state, county, parish, city, whatever.
My only quibble is with stuff like the military which, though it’s not being used that way, is intended to fullfil the actual Federal duty of defending the border. I have no idea how that would be organized at the lowest possible level, or if any re-organization is possible. The system is opaque to me. But I’m sure some of ya’ll have ideas.
Anyway, this rule by group work gotta end, because honestly it doesn’t work. Not in school, and certainly not in real life.