BY ANNA BOWLING
Throughout years of school, we are taught to play nicely with others, work with teammates, and develop strong leadership skills. These groups continue and mature and students develop independent characteristics.
Many groups focus on creating a team, where the sense of unity is stronger than the sense of the individual. It creates an environment where each member helps build others, who then build that person up.
Unfortunately, some of these groups, while promoting this unity, end up having toxic results. Being part of a group becomes more important than individual growth within students.
“I think that we do see a lot of negativity in the activities in our schools,” said Sydney Negron,12. “I think that the negativity typically comes from differences in skill level and motivation. Those at the top of an activity in terms of skill and motivation often resent those who are less driven or proficient.”
One major example are group projects. They make for an easy way to do a project and give a grade to multiple people- until the weight is distributed unevenly. Group projects have become dreaded in school, as students feel the people they are paired with lack the work ethic to do well. When students become apathetic to their group members, everyone suffers.
“[Teachers need] to make sure there are separate parts that each individual has to do,” said Blake Turano, 11.
If students are passing off their responsibilities to others, those students are never learning the crucial skills of teamwork.
“I think that some of this can be diminished through a reinforcement of the idea that everybody participating in the activity is doing so to enjoy themselves in some manner or another,” Negron continued.
Group projects are notorious for creating animosity and distrust in classrooms, with some students even approaching the teacher to express that things are not getting done by others in the group.
Many times, students become frustrated with not seeing the results they want. They can feel alone in their efforts want to do well. By not recognizing individuals and a want to do well, activities can drive some away. But other times, it is because the organization recognizes the same people again and again.
“I have seen people leave [groups like band] because of negativity,” Negron said. It’s extremely unfortunate because it deprives those who do leave of valuable experiences. In the band, the directors will occasionally give talks to remind us of why we are all there and to try to diffuse some of the negativity and tension that forms as we spend large amounts of time together.”
Clubs and teams need to realize that students are driven by a want to do well. When they are not given that space to grow at their own pace with their own goals, they become distant and reclusive. Extracurriculars are meant to enhance the academic experience. When they create a world where positivity is less reliable, something needs to change.
Students are driven by a want to do well and experience growth. Allowing students ways to reach out when they feel that their voice is being silenced would help alleviate some of the animosity that can be created.