Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finding a Voice

In Business Writing, I make them work in groups.  Quite honestly, it's grueling for all of us.  They hate it,a nd I'm only marginally behind.  They're worried--sometimes deservedly so--that their peers aren't pulling their share of the load, and I'm always talking someone off a ledge (or out of the class so they won't screw their group members over). But I find this an important skill for the business writing and in the business world in their near futures.

This assignment is particularly hard for women.  Maybe it's because my classes are overwhelming filled with women at Chicago State that I notice this.  Every semester I see women who don't write up group members who don't contribute.  They think they're "being nice" or "giving someone a break" by not creating a paper trail of lacking work, when they're really only creating a trail of tears for themselves and their group members. Is is because they don't want to screw others over, or is it because they don't want that responsibility on their shoulders? I don't know, but either way, they need to find a voice for themselves in the business world, where others will happily chew them up and spit them out without thinking about it.  More importantly, as women in a society that doesn't value assertive women, and values assertive women of color even less, my students have to hone that assertiveness for a professional venue.

Today, I saw a young woman come into her own.  She's a quiet one in class, but today she informed me how she delegated the work (It's her turn to be the leader), kept detailed records of someone who hasn't submitted and how she plans to write someone up, and I overheard her respectfully tell another always late student who I was a bit worried about in the group setting that she was not accepting the level of work he submitted, and it was up to him to take control of his educational experience, as she wasn't prepared to sacrifice her grade for him.

I was almost bursting with pride! When they learn to follow the process, learn to respectfully tell group members they didn't contribute, so they'll be written up, it's a good thing. She's finding that in the work world, her voice has relevance, and I like it!

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