Should Schools Teach Parenting Skills?

There have been many incidents in our town about middle school kids sending pictures of their genitalia to each other on cell phones. There was even one well-publicized scandal where boys passed around pictures of their girlfriend's boobs using the school e-mail accounts, which lead to legal and ethical concerns — the school could have been charged with distributing child pornography, since the photographs were sent through the school's computer servers.

I had a brief discussion with the school principal about these incidents. She said that discussions about cell phones and Internet usage were a parenting issue, not a school issue. She plans on bringing in a local cop who will talk about some lame software that can block out objectionable material on the Internet. Or not. But that's as far as she's ready to go on this matter.

Her hands-off attitude isn't unusual. The New York Times had a long article about the ethics of school getting involved with cyber-bullying earlier this week.

Affronted by cyberspace’s escalation of adolescent viciousness, many
parents are looking to schools for justice, protection, even revenge.
But many educators feel unprepared or unwilling to be prosecutors and
judges.

Often, school district discipline codes say little about educators’
authority over student cellphones, home computers and off-campus
speech. Reluctant to assert an authority they are not sure they have,
educators can appear indifferent to parents frantic with worry, alarmed
by recent adolescent suicides linked to bullying.

Whether resolving such conflicts should be the responsibility of the
family, the police or the schools remains an open question, evolving
along with definitions of cyberbullying itself.

However, some schools are getting involved in teaching parents about cyberbullying and more. A super-fancy school district out on Long Island is having mandatory parenting classes. Parents must attend or their children will not be permitted to attend sports activities. They teach parents about protecting their kids from Internet predators and homework habits. However, these affluent parents already have these skills. The school district is preaching to the choir.

If Annette Lareau is correct and parenting styles are different in working class and middle class communities and those differences have a large impact on future success, then perhaps schools should step in to level parenting practices.

Parents could learn about how to enforce that kids do homework at a desk rather than in front of a computer, that Halo isn't an appropriate video game for nine year olds, that a daily diet of Slurpies results in tooth decay, that kids shouldn't have computers in their bedrooms, and how to rig a cellphone to prevent access to objectionable material.

Schools don't want to take on this addition burden. With the budget shortfalls, they are struggling to even provide middle school kids with foreign language instruction. Busy working parents don't want to hear lectures on supervising homework, when they are exhausted from a long day at a job. One evening lecture probably isn't sufficient to unlearn certain cultural habits. It's food for thought though.

45 thoughts on “Should Schools Teach Parenting Skills?

  1. “If Annette Lareau is correct and parenting styles are different in working class and middle class communities and those differences have a large impact on future success, then perhaps schools should step in to level parenting practices.”
    While you might be able to improve certain things, I think Lareau talks about how parenting norms correlate with familial resources. To give an example, the current US middle class norm is that we do not leave kids alone until they are teens. However, it is not at all uncommon for Russian women (particularly single mothers) to leave a 5-year-old child locked up in an apartment while they are out and about. To paraphrase a cliche, parenthood is the art of the possible.
    I had a somewhat analogous situation this month when my husband was away for 10 days and I was home alone with the two kids. There was a very definite deterioration in my parenting practice and our quality of life. I had camps for my 7-year-old to go about half the mornings, I had a new embroidery kit for her, and I invited a family over for an afternoon and I insisted that my oldest do some math workbooks in return for getting to watch videos. That part went well. However, the kids’ diet and exercise went all to heck because I didn’t have the backup to make a federal case about it. Also, I had to do all of my grocery shopping with them, which is more expensive and leads to all sorts of HFCS items going home with us. A typical dinner for the 7-year-old became 1) baked beans 2) Gogurt 3) fresh pineapple. It was very difficult to persuade the kids to leave the house, and on one occasion, the 5-year-old ran and hid very effectively when we needed to leave NOW. I also resorted to a lot more “Do XYZ and do it right now!” then is normal for me. That was as close to single parenting as I ever want to get.

  2. I certainly agree with Lareau but I think it’s a stretch to say “these affluent parents already have these skills.” Many of them do and there will be some preaching to the choir but many of them do not. I’d be surprised if cyber-bullying were less prevalent in affluent areas.

  3. ” I’d be surprised if cyber-bullying were less prevalent in affluent areas.”
    Especially when it can be conveniently backed up by legal representation.
    I know that I am seriously worried about adding any more responsibility to schools’ burden. I think it has to be a question of foreign language *or* parenting skills, and not both.
    I found the NY times article seriously freak-out inducing. One of the things it pointed out was schools’ impotence. My first reaction to the cyberbullying youtube decision was to be outraged. But then, I thought about seriously about how much control am I willing to cede to schools about childrens’ out of school speech. It’s not trivial to draw the lines and the language has to be pretty carefully defined. What should a schools’ policies be? and when should and can they interfere?
    I think I’d be willing to have schools set a policy that says that students may not talk about other students by name in online publications (youtube, facebook, blogs, . . .) without their express permission. The rules would be content neutral, so that we wouldn’t try to define bullying (one of schools’ problems on the issue is whether saying that you don’t like someone’s dress is bullying.). I think it might pass constitutional muster on the grounds that you are protecting the learning environment in a place where all the students are required to be (i.e. school). Then there would be in-school consequences for violating the rules.

  4. I also agree with others that it doesn’t seem like cyberbullying (with its required access to private computers & phones) is very likely to be a problem of non-affluent youth.
    And, education, though useful (is there really a way to rig a cellphone to keep people from accessing inappropriate information), doesn’t mean that there will be implementation. Some people might let their kids spend too much time watching television because they don’t know you shouldn’t, but most do it because it lets them get through the day.

  5. “Some people might let their kids spend too much time watching television because they don’t know you shouldn’t, but most do it because it lets them get through the day.”
    Right. We all know that we’re supposed to eat lots of fiber, eat lots of veggies, limit salt, limit sugars, limit fast food, exercise one hour a day, cook at home, breastfeed, let the kids watch no more than X minutes of TV a day, read to the kids, get them outdoors, make sure they make friends, prevent fratricide, avoid junior stripper couture for the kids, teach please and thank you, save for retirement, save for college, save for emergencies, etc., but not all of those things are going to happen, particularly not all at once. Personally, I find that at most one or two major goals will be active at any one point. There’s a Russian proverb that says that if you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either, and I think it applies.

  6. You think that only working class parents need lessons on restricting children’s access to cellphones and computers? Seriously? That rich kids don’t cyberbully or do their homework in front of Skype or Halo?
    I’m trying hard not to read this post as a stunning display of snobbery, but you’re not helping me out much.

  7. Sigh. Lareau wrote a book that has been much discussed on this blog and at other blogs that found that parenting methods vary depending on class. I was skeptical of her findings at first, but then I read the book and thought about it and decided that she was right.
    I’m quite sure that cyber bullying happens in every community, but Lareau writes that middle class parents are doing more scheduling of their kids’ time, which may give them less time to pursue those activities.
    Check out the book, Jackie.

  8. I think the parenting model is different among different social groups, but I don’t think we know yet how that interacts with technology. Here’s your dissertation topic, somebody!

  9. “Lareau writes that middle class parents are doing more scheduling of their kids’ time, which may give them less time to pursue those activities. ”
    I really don’t think that the scheduling of time prevents the kinds of cyberbullying that I’m hearing about, ’cause it’s an outgrowth of the communication style of the teens today (i.e. texting, facebook, phones, email, chat, etc.). I think more affluent teens are more highly monitored (perhaps, though perhaps not, if they’re being watched by nannies and class leaders). It’s the affluent kids who have their own laptops in their room, and the excuse to do so (because they need them for school and classes).
    I monitor my children’s email, but have started to wonder about when that becomes inappropriate. It’s tough to tell. I had a conversation recently with one of her friends, who was a bit disturbed that I was planning on reading my daughter’s email. Of course, they’re not actually using it yet, but, in principle, they’d expect that if they were talking in her room, I wouldn’t be eavesdropping, and they’re wondering, why should I be permitted to eavesdrop via email?
    I can also monitor their computers, but I don’t know how that’ll work when they’re older.
    In your school, who was sending the obscene photos?

  10. Out school district has taken the opposite approach. Rather, there is a “24/7 policy” policy where inappropriate behavior off the school campus when school is not in session can get you banned from extra-curriculars.
    To see why other districts don’t follow suit, check out our legal bills as the (currently two) challenges wend their way up to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

  11. Rather, there is a “24/7 policy” policy where inappropriate behavior off the school campus when school is not in session can get you banned from extra-curriculars.
    My school had that, with no legal difficulties as it was private. It did cause a minor muttering* when one guy got busted for minor in possession while serving as the designated driver.
    *Muttering among the parents. The school just suspended him.

  12. “I really don’t think that the scheduling of time prevents the kinds of cyberbullying that I’m hearing about, ’cause it’s an outgrowth of the communication style of the teens today (i.e. texting, facebook, phones, email, chat, etc.).”
    Right. The sort of supervision that will keep a teenager studying, practicing the flute, and rushing to soccer practice is not the sort of supervision that will keep them from sending mean texts in their down town (for instance on the way to school or in transit to soccer practice). The nice thing about electronic bullying is that it leaves a record, which has got to be an advantage in dealing with it. That takes the he said/she said out of it.
    About privacy, while I think that poring over your big kids’ communications is not OK (unless it’s a matter of life and death), I think a quick routine skim is OK, particularly if it’s disclosed. There is a place for more serious snooping, though. Several years ago, I encouraged the parents of a very troubled young woman to use the GPS-feature on her cell phone, so that they could monitor her whereabouts without her being aware of it. That was during a particularly self-destructive phase. I don’t know if that helped at all, but at least it meant that she couldn’t just disappear (unless she left her cell behind).

  13. The Google searchcyberbullying “private school” -australia -uk -Turkey,” returns more than 37,000 results.
    Students of all ranges of family income participate. If the family doesn’t have a computer, most students can use cell phones, school computers, or computers in local libraries. The Pew Charitable Trust’s recent study showed that the majority of teens have internet access. 88% of teens from families with incomes less than $30,000 use the internet. 97% of teens from families with incomes greater than $75,000 use the internet. (http://pewresearch.org/millennials/teen-internet-use-graphic.php)
    To judge from the anecdotes I hear from families in our affluent town, cyberbullying does occur. The high school called the police in to school in one incident, to explain to bullying girls that their actions could lead to arrest.
    Can the schools change the behavior? Only if it becomes possible for a school to record cyberbullying incidents on recommendation forms for college. There’s a huge “butt out” factor with affluent parents. Only the parents whose children are not the problem show up for information evenings; the others either ignore parenting issues, or threaten to sue if Precious gets caught.

  14. Laura: I did read the book. I also read your blog entries about it and the ones Elizabeth wrote at Half-Changed World–I think I even commented on them, at both blogs. I’m referring specifically to what you wrote in this entry here:
    “However, these affluent parents already have these skills. The school district is preaching to the choir.”
    and here:
    “Parents could learn about how to enforce that kids do homework at a desk rather than in front of a computer, that Halo isn’t an appropriate video game for nine year olds, that a daily diet of Slurpies results in tooth decay, that kids shouldn’t have computers in their bedrooms, and how to rig a cellphone to prevent access to objectionable material.”
    I inferred that the “Parents” in the second quote are the “working-class” parents you were referring to previously, and took issue with these specific statements, as well as with the post itself.
    Sigh.

  15. Jackie –
    Really quick. I’m running out of the house.
    If we accept Laureau’s conclusions that A)parenting styles differ between the classes and B)that middle class parenting style gives kids an edge in life, then the middle class doesn’t need parenting classes. Their methods are working to get their kids into elite colleges and into successful careers. If we are truly concerned about equality, then perhaps the solution is to teach the working class the parenting style of the middle class.
    That’s all I was saying.

  16. “. Their methods are working to get their kids into elite colleges and into successful careers”
    You got to wonder, though, does keeping up the “bullying” video on youtube on some form of first amendment grounds actually help your kid? i.e. what the Beverley Hills lawyer did after his daughter was suspended for making fun of another girl on video and posting it to youtube. Mind you, I think there are legitimate first amendment/freedom issues involved when public schools try to regulate he behavior/speech of children outside of school, but I don’t think it would make me think better of a student.
    My daughter was in a play recently (of diary of a wimpy kid) where there’s a scene where the school play goes badly awry, and the “mean girl”/”popular girl”, gets upset and stomps off, saying that “her father is a lawyer and they’re going to sue.” My daughter’s father felt it necessary to have a serious talk about how she’s never ever allowed to say that.

  17. “perhaps the solution is to teach the working class the parenting style of the middle class. ”
    The 7th graders at my kids’ elite private school think that would be a very good solution.
    And, I think the school actually tries some, in the form of telling parents that they will not enforce parental policies about library reading (i.e. they won’t take away either Are you there go it’s me margaret or junie b jones from your child), advising parents to let their children make reasonable decisions about what they eat, sending them off on parent-free overnights, advising against participating in too many contests when they’re little . . . .

  18. Whee, a federal class action law suit even, in the haddonfield case. Pretty impressive.
    (and is there something about lacrosse players? I was recently told that it’s become an extremely violent game among boys).

  19. Oops, sorry. The 7th graders want the school to teach the middle class parents the parenting styles of the “working class.”

  20. I have not read the book nor followed the blog discussions as closely as Jackie and others, but I suspect the behaviors that society considers “good parenting” will alter once lower classes take on those behaviors.
    As but one standard, once the majority of society achieves the standard of getting kids into “elite” schools, either the schools will have to change their admissions expectations to maintain their “elite” status, or they will cease to be elite.

  21. From the perspective of this working class mother, adopting the “middle class” parenting style would only serve to make my daughter unable to function in either world. It’s not the “parenting style”—it’s the full backup of wealth and connections, hence POWER, that enables those “middle class” (read: rich) kids to succeed with that upbringing.
    Verbal challenges from a middle-class kid can read as bratty, but are usually also read as “thinker, go-getter”, etc. Not so for working class kids, who get labeled as discipline problems. Aggressive middle class parents who intervene for their children get results NOT because of the aggressiveness, but because of the wealth standing behind them to back up the verbal challenges. My aggressiveness in pursuing an IEP for my daughter did nothing—the school district knew I didn’t have the money to hire a lawyer, and so was able to postpone educational intervention until late fourth grade (thus, saving the district money).
    Meanwhile, the end result I see from “middle class” parenting looks a lot like “PolicyDude” from this post at Bitch, PhD—a grown man unable to assume adult responsibilities outside of the silver platter on which all his former “accomplishments” were handed to him.
    The greatest gifts my parents gave to me in my working class upbringing were the high degree of independence expected of me from an early age, and the full knowledge that anything I did in life was up to me—that I would have to be my own advocate, because no one else was going to be. Oh—and don’t assume that silence equals assent from the working class. We learn early on when discretion is the better part of valor…as a survival skill. That my daughter learned this around kindergarten age without ever having to have it spelled out for her was probably a function of class; I credit “osmosis”. She’s always had a finely-tuned bullshit detector too; another example of “osmosis” (working class people are directly lied to, or lied to via omission, more often).
    We prepare our children for the world they will be entering, which realistically means “inheriting”. One of my daughter’s teachers, a middle-class woman, was aghast that I would talk about my unemployment and struggle to pay bills with my daughter; I was aghast at the idea I should shield her from such a basic reality.
    But not all practices are different. Middle-class parents sustain rigorous schedules for their kids to give them an advantage in college admissions; a considerable number of working-class parents (myself included) do the same for a different reason (mine is “keep her away from drugs and gangs”. It won’t matter for her education, as she will be attending community college if she doesn’t choose to enter the trades).
    Interesting post, though. You’ve piqued my interest in the Lareau book.

  22. “Oh—and don’t assume that silence equals assent from the working class.”
    I thnk that comes up in the Lareau book, too.
    Laura, here’s a suggestion. How about commissioning a review of Lareau’s book as a guest post from La Lubu? One issue that I’m pretty sure will come up is that Lareau treats the working class/middle class style as an on/off type thing, whereas I know that there are actually transitional families who have features of both. There will probably be other things, too.

  23. La Lubu,
    I just read your link. Good lord, that was a 30-something! We are so doomed. On the other hand, I wouldn’t put PolicyDude down to overbearing middle-class parenting without more information about what the initial lump of human material looked like. It may require ongoing Herculean effort (perhaps both by parents and a significant other) to get him to make eye contact and to say hello, thank you, please, and goodbye and to otherwise pass as reasonably sociable and civilized. Actually, if I had to bet money one way or another, that’s the way I’d bet.

  24. Thanks, Amy P. I agree completely about the blurred lines between working-class and middle-class; it’s just hard to have that conversation on the internet because of what “middle class” has come to mean (and for that matter, “working class”. I’ve seen “working class” used as a stand-in for “poor” one too many times. The internet didn’t cause this by any means—Reaganomics and global neoliberalism upset that apple cart—but it is where the conversations are taking place. Well, that, and a few good bars!)
    Unfortunately, I don’t share your faith that PolicyDude was non-neurotypical. That’s probably due more to my region than class; the midwest is a breathtakingly provincial place, including our larger cities. I’ve witnessed a lot of PolicyDudes in various occupations (including my own—thanks, nepotism!), and damn, but these guys (it’s almost always guys—women don’t get those kind of breaks, not around here) can…to use the vernacular of my jobsite….”f**k up a wet dream!” I hold that there are large swathes of the U.S. that have this provincial effect—we can’t export our clueless (no one else wants them), and the families of the clueless aren’t willing to let them sink or swim (and end up living in Mom’s basement) if they have any power or influence to make the outcome otherwise.
    Have you read Alfred Lubrano’s “Limbo”? It would probably provide a few salient reference points in regard to those blurred lines.

  25. “Have you read Alfred Lubrano’s “Limbo”? It would probably provide a few salient reference points in regard to those blurred lines.”
    Nope. But in my family, my parents are the transitional blue collar/middle class generation. I think Lareau gets the cultural distinctions right, and I understand why she wanted to talk about families who were distinctly blue collar or distinctly middle class, but I suspect that religious and regional differences also blur the difference. Not spanking and preferring to use talky methods of discipline is s very middle class thing, however, it’s not at all universal in the middle class or upper middle class. Since we’ve moved to Texas, I’ve noticed that while I’ve never seen anybody spanking their kid, I hear lots of educated parents talking about doing so. (Mom at faculty neighborhood birthday party whose 5-year-old has strayed near traffic: “That boy’s going to get such a beating.”)
    I also think there may be more differences than people think between middle class and upper middle class culture.

  26. La Lubu, Thanks for the pointer to the Lubrano book. I tend to teach a lot of “Straddlers.” I’ve been reading the first pages on Amazon, and I still can’t get a grip on this working/middle class divide. I’ve always considered myself middle class, but I never saw myself as particularly privileged. In my family, my dad was a teacher, my mom was SAH. My grandfather worked in a diner. My grandmother worked in retail. We had some exposure to ideas/education (my dad had a masters), but there was no one in my family with connections. Was I middle class? And I married a man a lot like me. His dad was a low-level employee in an electronics firm; my MIL was a secretary in a school district.
    I think we need some other understanding of middle class because in all these discussions, I have a feeling of identification with both working and middle classes. There’s something in between the bricklayers and the doctors/lawyers/executives, and that’s where I come from.

  27. I’ve been reading the first pages on Amazon, and I still can’t get a grip on this working/middle class divide.
    Probably because the parameters are changing so fast. I’m 43, and the difference between what jobs are working-class and what jobs are middle-class (based on income) have changed a lot since I was my daughter’s age (she’s 10). That wasn’t true for my mother and father. A lot of that can be chalked up to union-busting and outsourcing. Many jobs which once were stable, working-class occupations are now poverty-level jobs; many middle-class jobs now provide a working-class income (and are devolving to working-class status as well). To avoid further derail, I’ll refrain from ranting on the obtuseness of U.S. economic policy being based on consumer spending when disposable income is rapidly shrinking, and job security (or a social safety net) is nonexistent.
    Not spanking and preferring to use talky methods of discipline is a very middle class thing,
    But that’s growing in the working class, too. I credit the high divorce rate (working class people have a higher divorce rate than the middle class), and spanking being used as a weapon between angry parents in court. Also, single mothers are already demonized enough; not spanking is one more weapon in the arsenal of ‘proving ourselves’. I’m very mindful of how my parenting is monitored considerably more than two-parent families; I’ve talked to other single moms at my daughter’s school who give that (having to go the extra mile to be the “good-enough” parent) as their reason for not spanking. (that’s part of my reason; the other part is having grown up in a dysfunctional alcoholic home, but that’s a whole ‘nother game).
    Interesting that you bring up religious differences; my anecdata leads me to believe that Catholics spank less than Protestants. Why that is, I’m not sure; that may be more related to ethnic/cultural practices of child-rearing more than religion.
    Another thought dawned on me while writing this: working class parents have an almost apprenticeship-style method of teaching children (watch, then listen, then do). We take our kids with us a lot (not just a function of single parenting—my father took me with him almost everywhere, and that seemed to be a common practice.) I don’t know if middle-class parents have the same apprenticeship-style teaching methods, but I don’t see them accompanied by children anywhere near as often. Why is that? Or is that also a regional or ethnic thing, and I just notice it more because in Illinois, ethnicity is “classed”?

  28. I think this whole discussion, smacks of there are two kinds of people in the world, people who divide people into two groups and people who don’t.
    Since I’m in the latter group, I think we frequently end up adding categories – straddlers, for example. And, how about immigrants?

  29. Was I middle class?
    There is a quiz at the back of Paul Fussell’s book Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. It is a bit out of date, but will give you a rough idea.
    And, how about immigrants?
    I think everybody is trying to ignore that until after the election.

  30. That’s just what they want you to think. One key message of his book is that Americans are to self-awareness as the Greeks are to fiscal prudence.

  31. “Most Americans are completely ignorant of basic bear safety.”
    Always go hiking with MH and spritz yourself with pepper spray?

  32. Sociologists divide up people into different groups based on classes. It’s not just Lareau. There’s William Julius Wilson and his minions who write about the culture of poverty and the poor. Political scientists don’t do that so much, so I’m not sure how they make those lines between income and culture. There are definitely outliers, but I think they are mostly interested in the vast numbers of people who do fit neatly into boxes.
    I do think it is interesting to see how political scientists take the research in another field and apply it to their own. That’s why I’m interested in education policy that uses Lareau’s research. It may lead to charges of elitism. But I think it’s worthy of debate, none the less.
    Lareau doesn’t talk about admission to colleges. She says that the middle class parenting style of scheduling the kids in activities and of blurring the lines between adult and kid space makes middle class kids more able to navigate bureaucracy, to challenge authority, and to participate in adult conversation. The French have started creating affirmative action programs for their elite colleges for working class kids. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

  33. “Political scientists don’t do that so much, so I’m not sure how they make those lines between income and culture. There are definitely outliers, but I think they are mostly interested in the vast numbers of people who do fit neatly into boxes.”
    If it wasn’t for transitionals, there would be no social mobility at all. It seems to me that that is an important question–how does social mobility work, exactly?
    “The French have started creating affirmative action programs for their elite colleges for working class kids.”
    Based on limited information (Entre les murs, some emails from a graduate of the system), I suspect that the French school system is not calibrated to be helpful to students who walk in without motivation or an understanding of what school is about. At times, we in the US go way overboard in attempting to spoonfeed kids a love of knowledge, but the vibe I get from French schools is that they take take-it-or-leave-it to a whole new level.

  34. Political scientists don’t do that so much, so I’m not sure how they make those lines between income and culture.
    I remember professors telling me about a long ago battle over the use of social class in public opinion research by political scientists. Anyway, the political scientists with more sociological orientations lost for either methodological weakness or Red Scare II, depending on who you ask.

  35. How did Lareau define social class? I can’t remember from my reading of the book, which was far too anecdotal for my tastes. I believe in quantification, even while I can be convinced that qualitative descriptions are necessary to describe some phenomenon. I’d consider a categorization that doesn’t include some reasonable quantitative descriptions of how people were categorized.

  36. La Lubu,
    I take it all back. It sounds like we’re growing a huge crop of PolicyDudes:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/business/economy/07generation.html?pagewanted=1
    This is a NYT sad tale of woe of a college grad who has been unemployed for 2 years after turning down the only job offer he got. It was $40k, but he turned it down because he thought insurance adjusting was a dead end job.
    Dad and grandpa both got their start in their successful careers through knowing a guy, and grandpa says, “Scott has got to find somebody who knows someone, someone who can get him to the head of the line.”

  37. Dad and grandpa both got their start in their successful careers through knowing a guy
    This is right. I have, with the exception of my graduate assistantship, never gotten the job I initially applied for. I’ve always gotten some other job connected to the job I initially applied for. People get confused because they think you need a deep connection to “know somebody,” but in my experience, all they need to do is be able to put your face and name together with some positive impression. If they have interviewed you and liked you, they’ll pass your name around if they don’t hire you.

  38. I actually don’t disagree with the “knowing a guy” thing. We all prefer to hire people who are somewhat known quantities. And I don’t have a problem with getting thru the door via a relationship. Once you’re in you have to prove yourself and persist. I don’t get the sense that young people right out of college understand how much they are being tried out provisionally in these first jobs.
    To me, it’s quintessentially American that, once in to a job, you have to prove yourself. Anyone who doesn’t deserve the job will wash out at that point. And the whole “inherited privilege” thing that comes with having parents rich enough to send you to a fancy school — it’s run its course at that point. I don’t care if you did go to Harvard, if you can’t produce in the workplace you’re gone. That’s how it is in my world, and IMHO how it should be.

  39. Anyone who doesn’t deserve the job will wash out at that point.
    That’s also how it works in my world (small software companies), but I do wonder about jobs in which employees and organizations are shielded from market forces. I’ve seen a lot of deadwood in universities, huge corporations, and sometimes non-profits. I can’t quite put my finger on the mechanism, but I think that there are structural reasons that some sectors create un-firable employees.

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