Some time ago I read the following description of a classroom incident that really made me think:
‘His teacher had urged him all year to be more organized, but he still had trouble keeping his work area neat. The boy’s papers and other materials were often scattered around, and when his classmates were ready to move on to the next activity, he lagged—trying to corral the clutter. On this particular day, the teacher had lost her patience: “Your area looks like a pig sty. Piggy, piggy! Oink, oink!” Exactly what happened next has been difficult to pin down.
But by the time another teacher entered the classroom, the boy had been surrounded by his classmates, who taunted him with “oinks” and other pig sounds. Alone in the centre, the boy was sobbing. By some accounts, his teacher—a veteran of 38 years— encouraged the children to join the chant. She told district officials she didn’t notice when they began to taunt him, although she did agree it wasn’t appropriate behaviour. The children themselves turned out to be somewhat unreliable witnesses. They were just kindergarteners.’
The article made me reflect on incidents that I have experienced/observed, or have been involved with over the years that constitute mistreatment of others by individuals in leadership roles – whether you call it disrespect, harassment or bullying. I was shocked to realize that I could recall a great number of examples fitting into this category. Having facilitated lots of workshops around anti-bias curriculum; leadership, supervision and cultural intelligence over the years, I should admit that there has been little content about or interest relating to the bullying of those in roles of ‘power’. We are talking about CEO’s, managers, teachers, educators. The focus of desired changes in behaviour is often on those being lead (the children, the clients, the workforce). Want to know if you are the bully or if you have tendencies towards bullying? Through my work with Cultural Intelligence I have realized that all the PD on Emotional Intelligence etc in the world will not work if we focus on the ‘other’ and encouraging change there. The crucial component that is often missing is who we are, our way of being and knowing.
Take this survey – aimed at teachers but easily adapted – to find out.