Compromise in the Constitutional Convention Project

Posted on June 7, 2013 by

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Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_StatesOver the course of this project, I learned a lot about what happened during the Constitutional Convention, and what compromises were made to come up with the Constitution that we know today. One of the main compromises that was made (evident by its name) was called “The Great Compromise” (also known as the “Connecticut Compromise”), and concerned the structure of Congress. The larger states (such as Virginia) wanted representation to be proportional to population, meaning that they would have the most representation in the new government. Smaller states (such as New Jersey), on the other hand, wanted every state to have equal representation so that they would have the same weight in Congress as the larger states. These two sides were unable to agree until Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed a plan in which Congress would have two tiers, one with representation proportional to population and one with equal representation for every state. This combination of the two conflicting plans allowed both sides to compromise and agree to a form of government which has lasted up until today, in the form of the Senate and House of Representatives.

I was very skeptical of this project at first; I had never had an assignment like this before and I didn’t think that it would be possible for our whole class of 16 to work together and create a video and interactive activity in the few short weeks that we had. I didn’t have high hopes at all, and I expected our video to be half-decent at most. The beginning of the project seemed to bear out my prediction of failure; we wasted the first two weeks of class time discussing relatively unimportant aspects of our project, spending a whole class period talking about a small issue only to have the decision reversed the next class period. However, everyone really stepped up over the next couple of weeks. Once we had decided on a topic, our whole class stepped up and researched very thoroughly. During the filming process, we split up into smaller groups with a specific task at hand, which worked much more effectively than trying to get things done in a large group. Working in small groups encouraged everyone to do their part, and both the video and interactive activity turned out much better than I had expected because of everyone’s hard work.

group-discussion

I’ve never been the person who dominates a group discussion; I’ve always been a little quiet, speaking up when I think it’s necessary, but generally listening and processing. However, during this project I was forced to speak up more than I was really comfortable with, helping to organize people as well as props, and planning during the filming process. I think I was quite effective, as I mainly working on organizational things that I think I’m pretty good at. I actually quite enjoyed this project, much more than I thought I would.

I definitely learned a lot about group dynamics over the course of this project. As I said earlier, the first couple of weeks were really hard, as we tried to do everything in a large group (the entire class) and we couldn’t get anything done. If I were to do this project again, I would definitely split into smaller groups earlier, as that seems to be a much more effective method of getting things done. We did have some small groups working during this project, but we started a little bit late, and I think we could have gotten things done a little bit faster with less struggle if we had done the small groups earlier in the process.

As far as skills go, I think this project challenged my organizational ability. I was in charge of creating and keeping track of a lot of the props (particularly signs and other things that I had to write or draw), so I had to know where things were at all times as well as coordinate what I was doing with the filming process so props were available when they were needed. Luckily this is something that I feel pretty comfortable with, and that’s one of the reasons our project worked out so well: everyone had a job that they were good at, and we all managed to play to our strengths, combining our skills for a very successful presentation.

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Picture sources

Constitutional Convention:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9d/Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States.jpg/400px-Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States.jpg

Group discussion:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0EodaYtqevU/TMun5XOj03I/AAAAAAAAAIU/lzrnWelQjgc/s1600/group-discussion.jpg

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