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Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2001 / 27 Shevat, 5761

Workstyle by Paula Bern

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Consumer Reports

Computers and preschoolers ... rude bank customers -- Q: I work in a school system where a major debate is ranging over the use of computers by preschoolers. One group of educators insists that early computer training is far faster and much more exciting for these small youngsters. The guys on the other side claim that there are too many negative impacts on the children, including eye strain, repetitive stress injuries and inadequate face-to-face social conversations with adults. I am totally confused, both as a parent and a member of the elementary school faculty. But, while speaking of the need of face-to-face conversations with adults, I have noticed that many moms and dads become very upset if I suggest it would help their child if they spent more time involved and discussing the children's schoolwork. Am I worried about something that is not there? - Michael, Miami.

A: No, you're not worried about something not there. You have touched on what children need far more than computers, and that is one-on-one time with parents and other care-giving adults. There is nothing inherently wrong with a 5-year-old learning computers. But parents need to become very involved with what their children do on the computers. And, most important, parents need to make sure that children limit their time on computers and are not replacing more value activities with the box.

Q: I just took a job as a teller at our neighborhood bank, one that likes to call itself super-friendly. During training we are urged to be polite, caring, helpful and pleasant. All of these standards sound great when the bank personnel is training you, but they never mention what to do about an impossible customer. Short of holding a gun and aiming it at the teller, these customers are as rude, disgusting and mannerless as people can be. They jump lines, switch places, elbow others in line, wait until they get to the window to add their deposits (and then do it incorrectly). How are we to deal with these? -Kit, W.Va.

A: If you weren't so far away, I'd suspect you were at my bank. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior can be expected from some people anytime one has to deal with the public. If you have trouble dealing with these sorts, it might be wise to seek a job where fewer one-on-one situations develop. Try for a position as file clerk, librarian or even a teacher's aide. If those types of jobs don't appeal, it might be wise to go to a career counselor who may be able to help match your skills and personality to various jobs.

02/13/01: Hooked on subliminal tapes ...picking up the tab

Dr. Paula Bern has taught executive seminars at Carnegie-Mellon University. Comment by clicking here.


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