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The Hidden Hierarchy

The other day I read “How to Handle the ‘Cool' Kids” by Smart Class Room Management and this line struck me.

Maybe you’ve noticed it too. Otherwise intelligent adults falling blindly under the spell of certain students. So much so that it interferes with their ability to be an effective teacher.

The rapt attentiveness. The mimicking body language. The fawning and trying to be cool too. The second and third (and fourth) chances.

Nothing is more hurtful to the rest of the class. Nothing makes students more resentful and less trusting than the teacher who obviously likes some students better than others.

It’s a morale killer of the highest order.

When I was in grad school I interned at a treatment center with a lot of infighting. No matter what the leadership tried to do, the infighting, the bickering, the backstabbing continued. No amount of vision casting by leadership or meetings with HR helped.

At the time I hadn’t understood why my coworkers were anxious and irritable all the time, but the quote above finally makes sense of my experience at that treatment center. The problem was favoritism. In any organization there is a hierarchy. Leadership at the top, management in the middle, and workers at the bottom. Most people are actually okay with this hierarchy when it’s fair. Most people actually like the structure that hierarchy offers, provided there are enough opportunities to move up. These hierarchies have clear rules and metrics.

But in the place I interned, there was a hidden hiera