Tag Archives: High School

There are More Security Guards in the US than There are High School Teachers

At first blush, the idea that there are more security guards in a country than high school teachers doesn’t seem right. It’s one of those things that, when you hear it, makes you question the values of the country. After seeing the headline, I thought I’d follow the links to see just where the sources came from. It turns out that the source is an academic who, thankfully, included a list of sources.

It seems to me that this is perfectly in keeping with the theme of my last post. For a country that’s national defense headquarters spends more money war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety, why wouldn’t you also expect there to be a plethora of security guards employed in the country? I suppose the hope would be that there wouldn’t be more of them than high school teachers.

Given the decline of US education, I wonder if the US might be better served if they took even one-quarter of the security guards and turned them into teachers. Of course, simply taking away their flashlights and guns and giving them chalk won’t necessarily solve the problem of the US falling behind in education across the world, but with some effective training, they could turn out to be pretty good teachers.

I suppose there’s more to it than that, though. Simply shifting one segment of the workforce to another won’t necessarily change the tacit values of the culture that led to this kind of development. That is, as I mentioned earlier regarding the budget of the Pentagon, it might just be that at America’s heart, this is what they value — defense over education. I wonder if there’s a poll out there juxtaposing the two. That is, if citizens were forced to choose where they’d rather have their dollars spent, would the rather it spent on education or defense? Even asking a question like that is difficult given the exposure to the media. In a vacuum, folks might prefer education to defense, but because of the news reports they’ve seen/heard over the last few decades, they’d put their dollar into the defense bucket. One could then argue that nothing really occurs in a vacuum, so that it probably proves nothing. Nonetheless, I’d be interested to see just how many Americans would choose defense over education.

I should clarify that I’m not saying that the US should spend nothing on defense, but when you get a certain point, the marginal utility of a dollar spent on education has to be higher than the the marginal utility of a dollar spent on defense.

Coping Strategies Used by Teens When Criticized by Their Peers for Their Brand Choice

Remember back in high school, middle school, or elementary school when you were worried to go to school because your jeans weren’t Levis, or Jordache, or Lucky, or whatever name brand was popular when you were an adolescent? A couple of researchers from Paris decided that they were going to take a closer look at this phenomenon. That is, how we coped (or cope) with being criticized for not wearing the ‘right’ clothes.

Their results revealed that we have five main coping strategies for these situations: justification, revenge, denial, self-reproach, and making the criticizers feel guilty. Can you remember how you reacted (or might have reacted) if you were in one of these situations? Personally, I have a hard time remembering what I might have said (or did say), so let’s take a look at some of the responses.

In justification:

I tell them why I bought this particular brand.

I justify my choice, explaining why I picked this brand, the circumstances of my purchase, etc.

I explain what are the reasons that pushed me to make this brand choice in particular.

In revenge:

I no longer bother to criticize their clothes.

I try to get my own back by criticizing their clothes.

From now on I’ll carefully take note of how they look and won’t hold back from criticizing it.

In denial:

I act as if I hadn’t heard what they said.

I act is if nothing’s been said. [sic]

I imagine that they haven’t said anything and that’s enough to fix the problem.

In self-reproach:

I bear a grudge against myself: why did I choose this jeans’ brand? It’s rubbish!

I think that I wouldn’t have to buy an unknown brand for my friends.

In making the criticizers feel guilty:

I tell them it’s not cool to criticize people about their appearance.

I tell them it’s not very nice for one’s friends to make comments like that.

After reading the responses under the five strategies, do you think adolescents would be more inclined to use one strategy over the other? What about in girls vs. boys? It turns, that’s the case.

The researchers found that the emotion-centered coping strategies (denial and self-reproach) were the strategies that were mostly influenced by “perceived controllability,” which is, “evaluation of the capacity people believe they have to do or not do something when confronted with a situation.” This runs opposite to previous theories, with regard to coping and so the researchers advocated caution when examining coping strategies from the perspective of major dimensions and that more care should be taken to include context.

One last piece that I found interesting were the differences between boys and girls. That is, the researchers found that girls, more than boys, were more likely to make the criticizers feel guilty. This made me wonder about this whole idea of girls developing emotionally before boys and that girls are more empathetic. I wonder if we looked at boys when they reached the same “level of maturity,” would they begin using this last coping strategy more than the others?

More than this, though, I wonder about the cultural effects on coping strategies. I continuously refer back to the documentary Miss Representation and its soon-to-be released brother, The Mask You Live In. The perspectives presented in those documentaries highlight the importance of culture and media on our youth, too. Maybe our adolescents wouldn’t have to develop coping strategies for combatting criticism about their clothing, if kids didn’t even think it was “cool” to criticize someone for the clothes they wear.

ResearchBlogging.orgSarah Benmoyal-Bouzaglo, & Denis Guiot (2013). The coping strategies used by teenagers criticized by their peers for their brand choice Recherche et Applications en Marketing DOI: 10.1177/2051570713487478

Your Beliefs Matter for Others, Too

In reflecting on yesterday’s post, I remembered another anecdote that you may find quite powerful. This comes from a story that a friend of mine who taught high school (not sure if she still does). And the more that I think about yesterday’s post and the post I’m about to write now, yesterday’s matches really well with the the first post I wrote about words being important and today’s matches really well with the second post I wrote about words being important to others.

The story begins with the teacher, let’s call her Laura to make this easier, asking the class to stand in a circle. After the class is standing in the circle, she asks for one volunteer to step into the center of the circle with her. Someone enters the center of the circle — let’s call him John. Now, before I go on, I should say that John was one of the taller people in the class (taller than Laura). These were high school students and some of them had surpassed Laura’s height, which is natural because Laura wasn’t very tall. Alright, so Laura pushes down on John’s arm and nothing happens — obviously. He’s much stronger than her.

Then, Laura asks John to go out into the hallway for a few minutes. After the door is closed, Laura then tells the class what she’s about to do. She also explains that she wants everyone to send/think negative thoughts to John. Thoughts like, “I hate you,” and “You suck,” and lots of other negative things that they can probably imagine because they’re in high school. They’re not to say any of these out loud, though. Once she’s certain everyone gets it, she goes out into the hall to get John.

After John’s back in the circle, she explains to everyone (and John, this time) that she’s going to have John extend his right arm out in front of him. Next, she’s going to ask him to hold it steady (i.e. resist) as she begins to push down on it. What John doesn’t know is that when his arm is extended, the rest of the class will be sending/thinking negative thoughts.

John extends his right arm. The class starts sending negative thoughts. Laura pushes down on John’s arm… it falls like limp spaghetti. The look on John’s face, Laura tells me, is remarkable. He’s astounded that Laura can simply push his arm down with ease. He asks her to do it again — and he tries harder to hold his arm up. The same thing happens.

She thanks John and asks him to go out into the hallway one more time. When he gets there, she then tells the class that she wants everyone to do the opposite this time. She’s going to have John repeat the process, but she wants the class to send/think positive thoughts of John. Things like, “I love you,” and “You’re awesome.”

When John comes back into the circle this time, he’s expecting that Laura will, again, be able to easily push down on his arm. However, when she pushes down — nothing happens. So, Laura then tries using both of her hands to push down. Nothing. John’s arm wouldn’t budge. Again, Laura tells me, John’s reaction is priceless. She thanks John and explains to the class what’s just happened, who by the way, are also pretty shocked to see John’s arm collapse for negative thoughts and hold steady for positive thoughts.

~

The thoughts we think are powerful. This used to be something that was “fringe,” and relegated to certain aisles in the bookstores. When you see publications like Scientific American reviewing studies that confirm things like this, you know that it’s striking a mainstream cord.

If you’re looking for more information about topics like this, I suggest looking for academic studies on the Placebo Effect. It’s quite amazing the kinds of effects that can occur that are attributable simply to the person believing that they’re going to be better.