Eight Apprentices began this week’s task. Out of the hundreds of people who apply to be The Apprentice, wouldn’t you expect the final eight to be exemplary? Unfortunately, we saw a typical example of fast-track, stressed out folks who turn into bullies.
You Deserve A Break Today
Helping out Net Worth, The Donald allowed the team to choose one member from Magna. Unanimously they chose Alex. Everyone hugged and things were looking good. Both teams cheerfully began their task. As Tana said, it wasn’t rocket science. They were asked to develop a new Dominos pizza and sell it from a mobile unit between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Aw heck, these high achievers should be able to do that with a smile on their face – right? Wrong!
Chris and Alex were happy to work together until things got tense. Orders began coming fast and furious. Stress levels began to rise. The stakes were high and the teams were stretched to the breaking point. Then Chris yelled at Alex, Alex responded in kind and Chris started swearing. We’ve all experienced this at work and at school. Or have you forgotten?
I talked with high school students from Champaign, Tolono and Rantoul and their experiences are very similar to those of these eight final candidates. “At this time of year – when we’re dealing with ACT’s, SAT’s and standardized tests – even my girlfriend loses her temper with me. Everyone’s on edge.” “Folks just snap- both students and teachers. Everyone’s tired.”
For The Apprentices, this was Week 11. For traditional students, this is Week 30. In 2001, the late Senator Paul Simon convened a National Symposium on Year Round Schools. He invited 17 educational experts to join him and former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley to discuss the pro’s and con’s of year round schooling. I was proud to be invited to participate in the symposium. Among the benefits we identified was the reduction in stress for both teachers and students as a result of the four breaks as opposed to one long summer break. Case in point, after five years of year round schooling, a low-income school district in Kentucky reduced disciplinary referrals by 16.1%.
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Even following a traditional school calendar there are techniques that reduce the likelihood of violence. Gloria Dickey, an elementary teacher in Gibson City, spends the first few weeks teaching team work skills. Her students learn what is expected of them in terms of both behavior and scholarship. With that foundation, students are better able to focus on the task of learning. An experienced teacher, Mrs. Dickey can point to years of success using this strategy.
Cassie Bergschneider, the instructor for Champaign County’s High Tech Edge Program also begins the school year teaching team work skills. Then they are engaged in a year-long task requiring a variety of technology and business skills. High school students who “would never have chosen to hang out together” become close friends and excellent co-workers.
Unfortunately not all teachers and leaders are like Dickey and Bergschneider. One area student said “We have a teacher who gossips and makes fun of students. It’s like she never left high school. Her need to fit in, promotes immaturity in the classroom. It’s hard to learn anything; you just want out.” Another talks about teachers who simply ignore the bullying. “I get harassed every day. When I finally explode, I’m the one who’s in trouble.”
As the ultimate leader of The Apprentices, where does The Donald place his priorities? Alex felt that Chris was physically threatening him. Maybe he was; maybe he wasn’t. Happily, nothing happened but what was the response to the incident? Team leader Stephanie confronted Chris about his behavior and reported it in the boardroom. Carolyn suggested that Chris’ violent behavior was “probably not appropriate for the Trump organization.” In talking to Stephanie about the situation, The Donald said “Life is volatile. I need someone who can handle difficult situations.” Chris was counseled that he was “very rough around the edges” but Stephanie was fired.
Later this month it will be six years since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School. While there’s no excuse for this crime, there are theories about what precipitated Harris and Klebold’s actions. The boys diaries and web site talks about being taunted almost daily. What have we learned from this portentous situation? According to Dr. Karin Frey of Committee for Children, “Studies show a connection between school bullying and school shootings.”