For our final project in Age of Ex, the entire class of 16 students was required to work together to create a presentation about the Constitutional Convention. This project not only helped me to learn about the Convention through the typical research based strategy, but it also put me in a situation that modeled the one we were learning about. During this project, I inevitably learned some of the basics of the Constitutional Convention, such as when, where, who, and why. I also learned what an incredible document the United States Constitution is, and how much work the delegates had to put in to it. The Constitution required the delegates to compromise on fundamentally different beliefs, and by participating in this group project, I can only being to imagine the difficulties of coming to agreement. Some of the specific examples that required compromise were: how representation in Congress should be determined, for example, should it be determined by population, or should each state get one representative; how slaves should be counted, either as a part of the population or as property; how should people be taxed; and how the president should be elected.
Compromises are always achieved by both sides giving in a little bit, and everyone recognizing the legitimacy of the opposing sides’ ideas. I think that this picture shows compromise in it’s simplest form: a balance between giving and taking.The fact that the Constitution is a document formed by compromise tells us that in democracy not everyone will always be 100% happy, but the decisions will be reached by agreement by all.
Clearly this project was set up to model the challenges that the delegates faced in the Convention. I had never worked on a project with such a large group of people, and it was much more difficult than I could have anticipated. I think that part of what was so frustrating in the beginning was that we spent so much time focusing on collaboration of the entire group. It is much harder to agree in a larger group than it is in a smaller group, so once we were able to split up and work in smaller groups, work went much quicker. We addressed the challenge of agreeing on things by beginning to make executive decisions. It worked well for us to have Lisa leading, and I think she helped us stay on task and helped to facilitate discussions so that everyone got a chance to speak up.
I learned that I tend to be one of the more talkative people in the group. I have strong opinions about many things, and sometimes I find it hard to listen to other people’s opinions and take them seriously. I chose to complete tasks where I could work in a smaller group, and therefore have my voice heard and be able to have more of an influence. I believe I was effective in the large group in speaking up, but that I could have been more effective in working to include the ideas of everyone in the class. One skill that I was forced to improve was my listening skill. Because there were so many people, there were many different opinions and visions of how the project should turn out. I realized that if I stepped back for a second and looked at everyone’s ideas with an open mind, and stopped trying to keep putting my idea in, I was able to see the value in every idea that was put forward.
If I were to be put in the position of having to complete another large group project, I would encourage the group to elect a leader earlier. I would also split people into smaller groups sooner, because the production increases rapidly with less people. I would put more trust in the other people in my group, but also make sure that each part of the project that got done had someone check it over.