Rutgers Model United Nations 2003, + + +
By Al Berrios (contact Al Berrios)
Note: This Report was modified in Feb. 19, 2004 into this easier print format.)
Only a really big geek like me would give up four days of his life to attend a conference at Rutgers College in South Jersey for high school students to learn about the United Nations. But the things I learned there are absolutely invaluable: 1) how teens interact with each other, work in teams, and generally behave; 2) what teachers are expected to teach in the classroom, which ultimately impacts our behavior as adults; 3) and how unions and bureaucracy affect employees and productivity, also two forces I've been researching to help our clients understand why their employees and consumers behave the way they do. Suffice it to say, I'm still digesting much of it, but here are some interesting insights:
More capable than we give them credit for. Although hormones were generally reserved this weekend (it was co-ed and for many, their first times away from home with other students they may like), it's apparent teens know more than they let on about their bodies and affections.
Yes, they're still ignorant about lots of things, but they don't think so. As a result, when reaching them, empower and involve them, as opposed to condescending them with authoritative lectures. They're hungry for knowledge, but aren't aware of it.
And they're very willing to develop relationships with each other, adults, and corporate brands, because in their small worlds, relationships are all they have. (For them, school is essentially their only source of relationships, regardless of their opinions about school and the learning process.) They naturally seek other relationships with like-minded, like-attitude personalities.
It's tragic to find so many bad teachers in the system. And even worse that a union mentally keeps them there. But before I discuss unions, you should understand that educators during these years of your life spend more time filling out paperwork than teaching. From top down, there's no escaping the mountain of paperwork that each student must have on file. The documentation is important to protect from legal vultures and unethical parents (and teachers), but excessive in the extreme. It's so bad, teaching is often the only place administrators hide to keep their salaries and administration is often managed by excellent teachers duped into being administrators.
To make matters worse, there's never been any solid studies to rely on of students that have gone through a system and how they turned out because with every new governor comes new education administrators. And because education is often given low priority during budgeting and attracts legal challenges like bees to honey, evaluating the effectiveness of the system is about as difficult as finding a non-militant union official.
Speaking about unions, my continued study into them just keeps producing more reasons to get rid of them. Teachers are often unionized, because there's so little job security as a result of changing administrations. (I wrote a report on my own experiences, "Unions: 'There's nothing you can do about it.'"). However, if you don't have to worry about performing well to keep your job, you don't. Instead, your energy is focused on filing paperwork, babysitting, and bickering over the workplace minutiae. It's disgusting.
To make matters worse, administrators encourage complacency and the lowest-possible quality because anything else undermines union authority. A recent experience I had with the board of ed that employs me to teach high school students brought this reality into focus. I failed to receive my paycheck, so had to go to the BOE to put a stop payment. Although my check was available the next day, it was only after the weekend that I could pick it up. So I showed up to the BOE on my way to the office at 7:45am. Because it wasn't 8am, payroll wouldn't pick up the phone. But security was persistent and permitted me to go upstairs to get my check. There were three people in payroll. All older ladies with attitudes. One was chatting on the phone. The other was sitting at her desk, arms crossed, doing absolutely nothing by watching the clock. And the third got me my check. She says, "You know I'm doing you a big favor doing this. We're not supposed to start work until 8am. If we do, we get yelled at." I ask, "Yelled at? By who?" "The big bosses." I thank her, sign for my check and leave.
This loathsome display
is endemic of the mentality prevalent throughout all unionized workplaces. Unions,
for all their commendable efforts in alleviating the plight of exploited labor,
have inadvertently created a self-interested culture, where the ONLY important
stakeholder is the employee. Until unions realize that without bosses, and most
significantly, customers, their existence will remain an abomination to any
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