Saturday, April 8, 2017

Demise of the Co-op

I play this silly game on my tablet, when I am at home (don't salivate, professional standards for education police, I'm not playing when I am on my campus engaged in the professional activities for which I am paid--if you want me, you'll have to try harder), called Township.

The game intrigues me. I have to manage a town and its economy, including farming operations vegetable and animal, factory production using the farming goods and ore from the mine, trade for materials the town does not produce via plane, train, and ship, building community places to attract people, provide housing for the people, provide entertainment like a zoo and amusement park, develop new territory, and fill orders for goods from the townspeople.

It's a lot to manage, lots of variables to balance, and the intricacy is why I am enjoying playing the game.

The game provides the option to join a co-op. Co-op members may help one another through the donation of goods and also may join together to compete in the regatta, a yacht race in which 15 co-ops compete for position and prizes.

I belong to a very competitive co-op, but it was also a supportive co-op. There was only one rule: no freeloading, which meant no one could belong, do nothing in the race, help no one, but collect the same prizes at the end of the race that everyone else worked hard to achieve. As long as a member was making the effort, all was good.

Until this week.

Trends that had begun the previous week began to manifest firmly. Although we choose tasks to complete from a common board (that's how the regatta works--for example, choose to send 10 trains for 130 points), some members began calling for tasks to be reserved for them, although it may take hours before they are ready to start it. Then every member is expected to ask for permission before taking a task, although it is not clear who gives the permission. It seems some members have appointed themselves the arbiters of task distribution. Then it appears that these few members keep the most desirable tasks for themselves and no one else is allowed to have them.

They leave the least desirable tasks for the other members. AND then they complain that these members are not doing their part.

My name was discussed Friday as one who is not keeping up even though the original co-op members know that I can only do one or two tasks during the week because I work, but I complete many tasks on the weekend.

And so a game I play for diversion from the stress of being a teacher, where I have heavy pressure all year long to produce a winning score from every student or else face sanctions, even the loss of my job, has become that job.

If I don't produce a high enough score early enough, I will be kicked out of the co-op. Or lose my job. This week, I cannot tell the difference between the two.

Except that I can. I can leave the co-op or stop playing the game. But teaching is my profession and my passion. I cannot stop doing that.

But ponder the comparison. How the development, the social, emotional, and developmental needs of your child no longer count. All that matters is the score that is produced. Or get the <ahem> out.

Substitute your favorite swear word.

(BTW, I am leaving the co-op at the end of this race.)