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Sloppiness in School, Sloppiness at Work

black_dea_TH15How schools teach students to be bad workers.
Recently, I found myself waiting in a long line at a toy store. As I inched forward, I noticed there was only one register open, with a lone, harried-looking, man behind it.
“Where’s your help?” I asked when I finally reached the check out. “Help?” he said. “I’ve been trying to hire help for years here, especially students from the high school across the street. But these days, they want to dictate their work schedule to me. No Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings—the very times I need help. And then I get calls right before the shift starts. ‘Something came up.’ Or they just don’t bother to show up. These kids have no work ethic.”
As a teacher, I can assure you that schools are a big part of the problem. High school graduates are utterly unprepared for work. School gives them the idea that employers should accept them for “who they are,” let them dress as they please, let them choose their hours, and pay well over minimum wage. Students think employers are there to satisfy employees.
“I’m quitting my job,” a student recently told me. I remembered how happy and proud she was to land a job at a McDonald’s after a long search. She had two children by age 17 and complained bitterly that “welfare doesn’t pay enough to support me and my children.” The father had been deported to Mexico long ago.
I wanted to know why she was quitting after just two weeks.
“It’s horrible there,” she said. “They expect me to show up on time even though I have two kids. I get yelled at for not working fast enough or keeping my area clean. The customers are rude but I’m expected to be nice to them. I can take a break only when they tell me, and only for 15 minutes. I’m exhausted by the end of my shift. It’s not worth it.”
This is typical. When I explain to my students what the workplace is like, they refuse to believe they should remove multiple piercings, cover up tattoos, avoid black lipstick or eyeliner (this goes for boys, too), dress normally, take the neon streaks out of their hair, put away cell phones and iPods, and be polite.
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Posted by  on May 12 2013.


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