Being a former student of the Waxahachie, Texas Independent School District, I was not a fan of group projects. We have all had groups that operated magically when group members brought out each other’s strengths and helped each member shine and succeed – but we have also had groups that failed miserably when members did not get along, show concern, or did not pull equal weight in completing a group project.
Since the murder of George Floyd as well as this ongoing global pandemic, this moment has been a failed group project.
While attending the Business School at Texas A&M University, we had quite a few group projects. What I enjoyed about those group efforts was a phase called critical reflection. Most people reflect in a “non-transformative” space– that is, simply restating or describing what they did or did not do.
We were challenged at a higher-order called critical reflection. Critical reflection is understanding, analyzing, and evaluating the process and the product of the group’s efforts. More importantly, you must “verbalize” what you would do differently the next time around (pointing to the future). You also could challenge your group member in a non-offensive way on what they could have done better.
During this season of global reset, we are failing our group project. Perhaps, this opinion article is my critical reflection of this moment and a non-combative response on what you could have helped to do better.
In this moment, as we critically reflect on the past 24-25 months, can we have a critical conversation on missed opportunities?
We missed an opportunity for the Christian Church to live its mandate “by wearing a simple mask” to show real compassion. Jesus said in St John 13:35, by this shall all men know that you are His disciples by the love we show one another. COVID-19 has really been a failed group project among Christians. Evangelicals have struggled to put the theological above the political as it relates to “loving your neighbor” based on Matthew 22:37-39.
We missed an opportunity to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
We missed an opportunity to pass sustainable police reform that would have signaled hope to underserved yet over-policed communities.
We missed an opportunity to affirm that black history is American history. We all see the lingering effects of redlining and lack of access to capital. Yet, we are afraid to teach that it happened and is still happening. To me, that’s culturally relevant pedagogy and not critical race theory.
What else have we missed? True conversation on how to reduce violent crime, addressing the houseless population, our widening learning gaps and graduation rates between white and black students, addressing the digital divide in our cities. Where’s your list?
We have missed so many opportunities that in my critical reflection of this moment I must say we have failed.
From time to time, teachers would give the entire class a retest because the whole class underperformed. I know I gave retests when I taught math at Waxahachie High School. Please understand everyone didn’t fail the original test. That’s not why a retest is given. A retest is given because each individual student did not perform to their capability and the teacher’s expectation.
If God is our teacher and we are his students – perhaps we will have another retest (pandemic, social unrest) so we can live up to His expectation because right now we are underperforming.
Darron L. Edwards, Sr. is lead pastor of United Believers Community Church in Kansas City, Missouri.