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LEARNING SOCIAL INTERACTION AT ELAN

LAN is a clOSely'knit, highly structured community which simulates society, so students learn through practice. The 30 to 40 students of each living unit are in charge of its operation under the direct supervision of on-line staff. A number of departments are required for effective functioning of each unit: kitchen crew, maintenance, security, business office and communications. Within each department there is a hierarchy of job positions. Every new student begins as a worker. Gradually the student assumes positions of greater responsibility. Next, he or she will oversee other workers, then the student may become a department head, next a coordinator trainee and finally a full coordinator and senior resident. Each added responsibility results in new privileges and increased status. The Elan social structure teaches that successes are rewarded by promotion. Failure to perform duties with initiative results in demotion. Demotions are inevitable because assignments are deliberately given in areas in which the student is not proficient. Elan believes there should always be new areas of challenge. Demotions teach students to function under adversity and to deal with disappointment and disagreement. After failure, students learn that they can start again and can succeed. The activity of running the units creates a constant demand for program participation and achievement. Peer pressure teaches and enforces constructive forms of behavior. Students learn that they must earn what they want. This is the reality faced by everyone in normal society. To get, one must give.

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