Yesterday I had to lead a humanities discussion with two other people from the class. We were assigned the topic of government. The professor provided four or five articles and videos for the entire class to watch and read. We would utilize these provided materials to base our discussion upon. Every class member was supposed to review these materials and come prepared to discuss the material. Now, there were a couple of groups that had lead discussions before mine. These groups did well, and the class participated. The group leaders had clearly prepared their topic, but they didn’t have to do much talking because the class was active. This was not the case for my group.
Our group had prepared around three pages worth of topics and questions to discuss with the class. We thought that this was overkill, but we figured it was better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. I went into this discussion feeling confident that our group would do well and everything would go as planned. It didn’t.
Nobody in the class wanted to participate. Nobody in the class watched any of the videos or did any of the readings. It appeared that nobody in the class had any feelings about the topic at hand. It got so bad that the group member that had asked the question had to answer his own question. Or the professor, who was supposed to just be an observer, had to become a primary audience member. Nobody wanted to participate. Occasionally, I had to answer questions that my group member asked. It was a grueling 75 minute discussion, but we got through it (thankfully). This was an honors class, so you would assume that classmates would come prepared and ready to discuss like they did for previous discussions. Clearly I was mistaken. One can take away one clear lesson from this, though.
Always over-prepare. It might just save you.
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