Inspired by Survivor, the CBS reality program, I have decided to divide my classes into groups based on their racial background. According to an article in Entertainment Weekly, Survivor needed “an attention-grabbing boost” after posting its lowest ratings ever last season, and producer Mark Burnett has admitted that the past few seasons have just seen “more of the same stuff.”
I completely understand where he’s coming from. Over the past several semesters, my students have failed to produce anything remotely original, and I suspect their abysmal performance is due, at least in part, to a lack of racial tension in the classroom.
The major obstacle to my plan lies in the ethnic composition of the student body. Anonymous Academy is overwhelmingly Caucasian, so the other teams -- especially the Hispanics — are going to be severely outnumbered. Also, it’s also unclear how I am going to arrange for the groups to merge. On Survivor, people are voted off the program by their fellow contestants, which enables the tribes to combine without becoming too large.
I don’t have the luxury of eliminating students from my class. In the past, I’ve had the students vote on which of their classmates they wanted to get rid of — but that was just for fun and the exiles were back in class the next day. It's possible one or two of them will be expelled, but I can't count on it.
So while the Survivor model is not without its challenges, I am confident it will work well in the classroom setting. It's too good of an idea not to.