School Diary: How to Anger a Budding SJW

 
A small eruption of social justice warfare erupted today at the start of class. Thoughts, critiques, suggestions, etc…all warmly welcomed.My class was waiting to begin when a chatty Hispanic student- call her K- said: “well, I read this article in the Washington Post…but I shouldn’t talk about it now…”

K has been my student for a year and a half so I should have known better than to take the bait. Most of her tuition is paid by a fund that sends “promising” students from public schools to independent/private schools in the state. We know this because she speaks about it constantly, to everyone. She’s generally cheerful, inarticulate, and uninformed (“Ok, so this Helen Keller person… I don’t really know who she was, but anyhoo, so… my sister said that she was blind and deaf. And she couldn’t talk either? But how… like I don’t wanna be mean or, like….well mean I guess but I mean how is that possible? Like at the same time?”)

However I said absentmindedly, “Give us an idea of the theme and we can tell you if we can address it briefly.” I will paraphrase: “So basically, I’m just coasting in school because I have certain advantages… I don’t have to work very hard to be able to, you know…” I cut her off here because I was shocked (and she was floundering). To use the term, “coasting”, I cut in, suggests that K is willing to accept advantages that she doesn’t deserve (I pointed out that K had stated that she does very little work) when others work harder and receive no recognition. That didn’t seem fair to me. There was a ripple in the classroom that I ignored because I was aware of how otherwise silent the room had become.

K was furious and hotly responded that her poor and unprivileged background (i.e. her ancestral background!), which I would never be expected to understand (it was implied that I probably would never think of trying either), entitled her to extra consideration and that colleges did not see the difference between the effort she put in and that of another peer who might be more “privileged”.

With the vivid image of a train shooting off the tracks, I decided to bring the heated exchange to a close. I said firmly that I understood her point but terms like “coasting” were a poor choice for such a sensitive topic because it implied carelessness and passivity. In conversations like these, I went on, it was important to pick one’s words more sensitively. K was very displeased with this conclusion and sulked in her chair. The exchange lasted 3-4 rapid-fire minutes. I felt my knees knocking together under my desk and I swear my stomach tied itself into knots. The room was silent for the rest of the period. I immediately emailed my principal to tell him exactly what happened so he would be looped in.

At the end of class, I asked K to stay for a few moments. I wanted to see if I could clarify how we had communicated at the very least. With a curtain of hair in her face, I explained that while students are free to discuss politics at school, I try to be as neutral as possible though challenging students is important- she sniffed. I understood her interest in today’s topic, but that our class was not the appropriate forum to have such a large-ranging discussion. Hopefully she would understand my intent, as I had understood hers and feel comfortable in my classroom still? She looked at me without blinking and then snapped, “I have to go to crew. Bye.”

I find aspects of this haunting. I know the principal said it would be alright and that K has been provocative with other teachers and administrators too. But I’m aware of the other students’ expressions, how students start to talk, how word spreads about an interaction. The horror of a confrontation with an angry mob of SJWs. K’s words today were offensive and prejudiced in the extreme. How many deserving students cannot come to our school because they are ineligible for financial aid or scholarship programs like K’s? How many would come with such programs and work hard to be deserving of such opportunities?

I feel disconcerted by the episode and there’s nothing to do about it. I couldn’t say more than I did, I didn’t want to say less than I did and I didn’t want to apologize for anything I did say.

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  1. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Good luck.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Minority or not, she sounds like a spoiled brat. She’s flaunting the privilege she’s been given as a minority student. That’s rude and arrogant. You did fine. Consider it a lesson learned. By you, not her.

    • #2
  3. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    You might wish to make an appointment for the two of you with the school counselor. You need a witness when you explain to her exactly how she came across to you and the class. Be honest, and let her know that her behavior will not be tolerated in front of the rest of the class. Then give her some extra work, since she is obviously not challenged enough with her current workload. Give her Thomas Sowell’s book A Conflict of Visions to read and report on. She might learn something valuable. 

    • #3
  4. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    You might wish to make an appointment for the two of you with the school counselor. You need a witness when you explain to her exactly how she came across to you and the class. Be honest, and let her know that her behavior will not be tolerated in front of the rest of the class. Then give her some extra work, since she is obviously not challenged enough with her current workload. Give her Thomas Sowell’s book A Conflict of Visions to read and report on. She might learn something valuable.

    I sent admin the email and talked to the principal after school so I think I’m covered on that account. Not having control of the rumor mill frustrates me. I’d like to follow your other suggestions, but one issue is that the school counselor/psychologist is leading the diversity charge at the school. While I think she would be sympathetic about the use of the term “coasting”, I think that’s about the extent of it. As for Thomas Sowell…the student didn’t even read the short article explaining Helen Keller that I sent her so I think Sowell would be really ambitious!

    • #4
  5. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Minority or not, she sounds like a spoiled brat. She’s flaunting the privilege she’s been given as a minority student. That’s rude and arrogant. You did fine. Consider it a lesson learned. By you, not her.

    What’s happened to our society that we allow a 16 year old to create this chilling atmosphere? It felt like the rest of the room faded to just her and I. None of the usual cheer was there- she spoke angrily and I replied rapidly. The alarm in the other students made me feel even more tense. I was relieved when we moved on but I wonder if this is the end of it.

    • #5
  6. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Do not let this kid dominate you-insist that she read the article and summarize it. If she thinks she’s so wonderful, make her prove it to you. 

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The colleges may not see the difference in the level of effort, but that is only half the battle. Working hard is an important habit. One day she’ll face real work. Coasting will no longer be an option. Unless she selects one of those brain-dead majors where she’s never challenged, such as Aggrieved Group Studies or one of those other wastes of time.

    • #7
  8. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Am I the only person who just figured that K stood for Karen?

    • #8
  9. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Percival (View Comment):

    The colleges may not see the difference in the level of effort, but that is only half the battle. Working hard is an important habit. One day she’ll face real work. Coasting will no longer be an option. Unless she selects one of those brain-dead majors where she’s never challenged, such as Aggrieved Group Studies or one of those other wastes of time.

    Absolutely right. Her idea that she is “coasting” is ridiculous because even on the most superficial level, she is less prepared and less able then her peers. I can tell who studies and who doesn’t by the questions they ask (or don’t ask), by their answers to my questions, how they approach their assignments as they work in class. It’s clear who knows what they are doing and who doesn’t.  As you say, one day when she has to produce real work, she will be at a loss.

    • #9
  10. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Isn’t it possible that by admitting she doesn’t do the work, and doesn’t think she NEEDS to, the other students will be more on your side than hers?

    • #10
  11. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Am I the only person who just figured that K stood for Karen?

    Ha! I didn’t think of that. It doesn’t, but if it makes you laugh and adds levity to the story, believe that!

    • #11
  12. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Isn’t it possible that by admitting she doesn’t do the work, and doesn’t think she NEEDS to, the other students will be more on your side than hers?

    I’m afraid to wonder what the others thought. I have good relationships with all of them, and in many ways I know it’s because I have always been politically neutral. Certain students have come to class arguing about politics and I have quietly diffused the arguments. Did they feel this conversation was a departure from that perceived neutrality? I like playing devil’s advocate and have taken time to explain concepts to them that they didn’t understand but we’ve never had a situation like this one. I don’t know what they made of it. Their social and political alliances are scattered.

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    The colleges may not see the difference in the level of effort, but that is only half the battle. Working hard is an important habit. One day she’ll face real work. Coasting will no longer be an option. Unless she selects one of those brain-dead majors where she’s never challenged, such as Aggrieved Group Studies or one of those other wastes of time.

    Absolutely right. Her idea that she is “coasting” is ridiculous because even on the most superficial level, she is less prepared and less able then her peers. I can tell who studies and who doesn’t by the questions they ask (or don’t ask), by their answers to my questions, how they approach their assignments as they work in class. It’s clear who knows what they are doing and who doesn’t. As you say, one day when she has to produce real work, she will be at a loss.

    In my fraternity, I specialized in rooming with pledges who were struggling academically. Only one of them dropped out, and he was a ‘coaster’ from wayback. He had never had to exert himself scholastically in high school and it showed. Differential Equations separates the men from the boys.

    • #13
  14. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Isn’t it possible that by admitting she doesn’t do the work, and doesn’t think she NEEDS to, the other students will be more on your side than hers?

    They are a fragile lot. I can imagine something like, “yeah I didn’t think K was right with the “coasting” part but I thought the teacher wasn’t as respectful about POC communities and K’s heritage”. It’s hard to know what side they’d pick.

    • #14
  15. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Isn’t it possible that by admitting she doesn’t do the work, and doesn’t think she NEEDS to, the other students will be more on your side than hers?

    They are a fragile lot. I can imagine something like, “yeah I didn’t think K was right with the “coasting” part but I thought the teacher wasn’t as respectful about POC communities and K’s heritage”. It’s hard to know what side they’d pick.

    The only way to find out is to ask them. They might surprise you. 

    • #15
  16. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    Giulietta (View Comment):
    What’s happened to our society that we allow a 16 year old to create this chilling atmosphere? It felt like the rest of the room faded to just her and I. None of the usual cheer was there- she spoke angrily and I replied rapidly. The alarm in the other students made me feel even more tense. I was relieved when we moved on but I wonder if this is the end of it.

    You have stumbled onto the root cause of the problem.  We have allowed a 16 year old the power to dictate the terms of engagement by complicitly  acknowledging that she has status because of some claim to marginality.  The solution (which may not be possible in today’s environment) is to clearly and defiantly state that in your classroom, there is no privilege, there is no bias.  All are plebes worthy of being there, but all must work hard to maintain that right and privilege, and no one gets special allowances for any past perceived or real differences. 

    Not sure that “enlightened” counselors will agree and support that position, but that is the real solution. 

    Hope you can find a way thru this.

    • #16
  17. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Percival (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    The colleges may not see the difference in the level of effort, but that is only half the battle. Working hard is an important habit. One day she’ll face real work. Coasting will no longer be an option. Unless she selects one of those brain-dead majors where she’s never challenged, such as Aggrieved Group Studies or one of those other wastes of time.

    Absolutely right. Her idea that she is “coasting” is ridiculous because even on the most superficial level, she is less prepared and less able then her peers. I can tell who studies and who doesn’t by the questions they ask (or don’t ask), by their answers to my questions, how they approach their assignments as they work in class. It’s clear who knows what they are doing and who doesn’t. As you say, one day when she has to produce real work, she will be at a loss.

    In my fraternity, I specialized in rooming with pledges who were struggling academically. Only one of them dropped out, and he was a ‘coaster’ from wayback. He had never had to exert himself scholastically in high school and it showed. Differential Equations separates the men from the boys.

    I sympathize with that. My former student from public school got a full ride to a high-ranking state school here. She was a top student in HS (coasted) and floundered fast her first year in college. She didn’t know how to take real notes, didn’t understand office hours at all, had no idea how to study regularly, and wanted to drop out when she got low grades (Ds) in her science classes as a Freshman pre-med. There was a lot of coaching to shove her forward. But she proved Sowell’s ideas about affirmative action- you can only kids who are already moving up at a clip. No one at that university imagined the gap she would be dealing with and she fell apart accordingly. There’s no glory in announcing that you coast. The crash is dreadful.

    • #17
  18. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Isn’t it possible that by admitting she doesn’t do the work, and doesn’t think she NEEDS to, the other students will be more on your side than hers?

    They are a fragile lot. I can imagine something like, “yeah I didn’t think K was right with the “coasting” part but I thought the teacher wasn’t as respectful about POC communities and K’s heritage”. It’s hard to know what side they’d pick.

    The only way to find out is to ask them. They might surprise you.

    A good part of how they answer might depend on how many other students are within hearing distance.

    • #18
  19. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):
    What’s happened to our society that we allow a 16 year old to create this chilling atmosphere? It felt like the rest of the room faded to just her and I. None of the usual cheer was there- she spoke angrily and I replied rapidly. The alarm in the other students made me feel even more tense. I was relieved when we moved on but I wonder if this is the end of it.

    You have stumbled onto the root cause of the problem. We have allowed a 16 year old the power to dictate the terms of engagement by complicitly acknowledging that she has status because of some claim to marginality. The solution (which may not be possible in today’s environment) is to clearly and defiantly state that in your classroom, there is no privilege, there is no bias. All are plebes worthy of being there, but all must work hard to maintain that right and privilege, and no one gets special allowances for any past perceived or real differences.

    Not sure that “enlightened” counselors will agree and support that position, but that is the real solution.

    Hope you can find a way thru this.

    Part of the problem here is that “K” clearly DIDN’T really belong there, not by actual effort etc.  And she knows it, and said so.  She might be able to justify her continued presence via effort, but that’s not how she get there to start with.

    • #19
  20. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Isn’t it possible that by admitting she doesn’t do the work, and doesn’t think she NEEDS to, the other students will be more on your side than hers?

    They are a fragile lot. I can imagine something like, “yeah I didn’t think K was right with the “coasting” part but I thought the teacher wasn’t as respectful about POC communities and K’s heritage”. It’s hard to know what side they’d pick.

    The only way to find out is to ask them. They might surprise you.

    A good part of how they answer might depend on how many other students are within hearing distance.

    Oh they all were. The class was small. Every single student heard the exchange. Hence also the anxiety it has provoked.

    • #20
  21. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Isn’t it possible that by admitting she doesn’t do the work, and doesn’t think she NEEDS to, the other students will be more on your side than hers?

    They are a fragile lot. I can imagine something like, “yeah I didn’t think K was right with the “coasting” part but I thought the teacher wasn’t as respectful about POC communities and K’s heritage”. It’s hard to know what side they’d pick.

    The only way to find out is to ask them. They might surprise you.

    A good part of how they answer might depend on how many other students are within hearing distance.

    Oh they all were. The class was small. Every single student heard the exchange. Hence also the anxiety it has provoked.

    I meant in response to RushBabe’s comment “ask them,” assuming that would be something like one-on-one but maybe I shouldn’t have assumed that.  However I wouldn’t expect for a moment that you would get honest answers if you asked the whole class together.  Even if every one of them privately agreed with you, they might not be willing to say so “in public.”

    • #21
  22. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Isn’t it possible that by admitting she doesn’t do the work, and doesn’t think she NEEDS to, the other students will be more on your side than hers?

    They are a fragile lot. I can imagine something like, “yeah I didn’t think K was right with the “coasting” part but I thought the teacher wasn’t as respectful about POC communities and K’s heritage”. It’s hard to know what side they’d pick.

    The only way to find out is to ask them. They might surprise you.

    A good part of how they answer might depend on how many other students are within hearing distance.

    Oh they all were. The class was small. Every single student heard the exchange. Hence also the anxiety it has provoked.

    I meant in response to RushBabe’s comment “ask them,” assuming that would be something like one-on-one but maybe I shouldn’t have assumed that. However I wouldn’t expect for a moment that you would get honest answers if you asked the whole class together. Even if every one of them privately agreed with you, they might not be willing to say so “in public.”

    Oh I assumed you meant individual conversations as well:) There might be a student or two who trickles into my room and says something. We’ll see what comes up tomorrow :(

    • #22
  23. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Very rough situation. It seems like you handled it really well. Sorry that happened. It is so strange to hear a student brag about coasting. 

    • #23
  24. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):
    What’s happened to our society that we allow a 16 year old to create this chilling atmosphere? It felt like the rest of the room faded to just her and I. None of the usual cheer was there- she spoke angrily and I replied rapidly. The alarm in the other students made me feel even more tense. I was relieved when we moved on but I wonder if this is the end of it.

    You have stumbled onto the root cause of the problem. We have allowed a 16 year old the power to dictate the terms of engagement by complicitly acknowledging that she has status because of some claim to marginality. The solution (which may not be possible in today’s environment) is to clearly and defiantly state that in your classroom, there is no privilege, there is no bias. All are plebes worthy of being there, but all must work hard to maintain that right and privilege, and no one gets special allowances for any past perceived or real differences.

    Not sure that “enlightened” counselors will agree and support that position, but that is the real solution.

    Hope you can find a way thru this.

    I think you’d find my principal’s response interesting. He listened to me, reassured me that I wasn’t going to be in trouble, but at the same time, shrugged off her behavior a bit. “Oh yes, she’s been doing this recently with others, why do you think?” To him, she’s a pest and he has other problems. In the old days, I think she would have been hauled into the office, sat down, and told that her behavior had been inappropriate. And that’s what would have happened after I had set her straight in the classroom.

    I think the next time that there is even the whisper of anything, I will clearly state a policy like you mention: no privilege, no bias. In the meantime, let’s see how this settles down…

    • #24
  25. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    Very rough situation. It seems like you handled it really well. Sorry that happened. It is so strange to hear a student brag about coasting.

    I could understand if a student bragged after a test, “Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I did well because I barely had time to study” (and all the variations on that theme) but her blanket statement that she intended to slack off because it was her due was just horrifying. She struck me as ignorant and while I spend all day biting my tongue, I couldn’t stand letting that one go by.

    • #25
  26. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):
    What’s happened to our society that we allow a 16 year old to create this chilling atmosphere? It felt like the rest of the room faded to just her and I. None of the usual cheer was there- she spoke angrily and I replied rapidly. The alarm in the other students made me feel even more tense. I was relieved when we moved on but I wonder if this is the end of it.

    You have stumbled onto the root cause of the problem. We have allowed a 16 year old the power to dictate the terms of engagement by complicitly acknowledging that she has status because of some claim to marginality. The solution (which may not be possible in today’s environment) is to clearly and defiantly state that in your classroom, there is no privilege, there is no bias. All are plebes worthy of being there, but all must work hard to maintain that right and privilege, and no one gets special allowances for any past perceived or real differences.

    Not sure that “enlightened” counselors will agree and support that position, but that is the real solution.

    Hope you can find a way thru this.

    I think you’d find my principal’s response interesting. He listened to me, reassured me that I wasn’t going to be in trouble, but at the same time, shrugged off her behavior a bit. “Oh yes, she’s been doing this recently with others, why do you think?” To him, she’s a pest and he has other problems. In the old days, I think she would have been hauled into the office, sat down, and told that her behavior had been inappropriate. And that’s what would have happened after I had set her straight in the classroom.

    I think the next time that there is even the whisper of anything, I will clearly state a policy like you mention: no privilege, no bias. In the meantime, let’s see how this settles down…

    This might be one of those times when you may wish you had recorded conversations, especially with the principle.  If he gets into trouble over this, he could claim that he never said what he said to you, etc etc.

    • #26
  27. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    I think you’d find my principal’s response interesting. He listened to me, reassured me that I wasn’t going to be in trouble, but at the same time, shrugged off her behavior a bit. “Oh yes, she’s been doing this recently with others, why do you think?” To him, she’s a pest and he has other problems. In the old days, I think she would have been hauled into the office, sat down, and told that her behavior had been inappropriate. And that’s what would have happened after I had set her straight in the classroom.

    I think the next time that there is even the whisper of anything, I will clearly state a policy like you mention: no privilege, no bias. In the meantime, let’s see how this settles down…

    This might be one of those times when you may wish you had recorded conversations, especially with the principle. If he gets into trouble over this, he could claim that he never said what he said to you, etc etc.

    You’re a tonic for my nerves! Ha! Our state has a two-party consent law so it would be inadmissible anyway.

    • #27
  28. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    I think you’d find my principal’s response interesting. He listened to me, reassured me that I wasn’t going to be in trouble, but at the same time, shrugged off her behavior a bit. “Oh yes, she’s been doing this recently with others, why do you think?” To him, she’s a pest and he has other problems. In the old days, I think she would have been hauled into the office, sat down, and told that her behavior had been inappropriate. And that’s what would have happened after I had set her straight in the classroom.

    I think the next time that there is even the whisper of anything, I will clearly state a policy like you mention: no privilege, no bias. In the meantime, let’s see how this settles down…

    This might be one of those times when you may wish you had recorded conversations, especially with the principle. If he gets into trouble over this, he could claim that he never said what he said to you, etc etc.

    You’re a tonic for my nerves! Ha! Our state has a two-party consent law so it would be inadmissible anyway.

    Well you could ask for permission.  And record the permission too, so that later if he says he didn’t give permission, you can prove otherwise.

    If he refuses to give permission, then record that, and leave.  So he can’t claim that you said something you didn’t really say.

    • #28
  29. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    Very rough situation. It seems like you handled it really well. Sorry that happened. It is so strange to hear a student brag about coasting.

    I could understand if a student bragged after a test, “Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I did well because I barely had time to study” (and all the variations on that theme) but her blanket statement that she intended to slack off because it was her due was just horrifying. She struck me as ignorant and while I spend all day biting my tongue, I couldn’t stand letting that one go by.

    It is horrifying. I’ve never had a student say that to me, thankfully. But I have heard a few peers in seminar say “oh yeah, I just don’t do the readings and wing it.” And I couldn’t ever listen to them give comments without thinking that they were just talking to hear themselves talk or impress the professor. It is fairly rare in my mind (at the seminar level) but it was disappointing. 

    Students want As and validation and they don’t get that employers don’t care about grades. We are just there to be like “oh you’re so smart! Wow! So smart here is an A.” Not how life works. I feel I’m sometimes part of the problem for a variety of reasons but it’s a big problem.

     

    • #29
  30. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Well you could ask for permission. And record the permission too, so that later if he says he didn’t give permission, you can prove otherwise.

    If he refuses to give permission, then record that, and leave. So he can’t claim that you said something you didn’t really say.

    I understand your position. But (everything before the but…) this is so ticky-tack.

    I had the opportunity to run a crew of daily hires for a few weeks in Chicago a few years back.  I was representing Korean company at the time, and they had a quality issue that required hand sorting, manual cleaning, repacking, etc.  I had a crew of 8 people. They all likely had a claim to some sort of marginalized segment. The Koreans treated them like [REDACTED].  It was embarrassing and absolutely the worst kind of demeaning discrimination.  For example, the first day I was there with the crew, the koreans refused to let them sit in the lunch room…they had to sit on the curb outside to eat.  The next day I treated them all to lunch at a cool mexican street food place.  We celebrated lunches as picnics the rest of the time I was working with them, they brought me some amazing home cooked foods. 

    anyway, I worked side by side with them, and gave them very clear goals and incentives: for example, “when we finish this pallet of parts, lunch break begins” (I would check our rate of speed – a pallet typically would take the team 45 minutes, i would make this announcement at 11:20, the pallet would be done by 11:50, 15 minutes faster than usual! giving the team an extra 10 minutes.

    Eventually this team was producing at rates that was unbelievable.  One day, they earned an early 20 minute lunch break, and one of the guys (who always coasted) came back from lunch 15 minutes late.  He gave some lame excuse which all of the other workers listened to intently. When we signed out for the day, I quietly (but most heard) informed the Korean time keeper that the one worker only worked 7 3/4 hours.  The rest of the crew waited till he left angrily, and thanked me. He never came back, and the rest worked harder than ever before.  

    The one guy was like your student. he always was able to coast, claim something, and get away with it. the rest resented him.  They very much appreciated they were treated fairly, with respect, clear expectations and rational consequences. Why should we expect or get anything less? 

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