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July 19, 2016

Donald Trump’s early years from trouble-making teen to military school star

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Essential question

How might a person’s childhood influence who he or she is as an adult?


Born and raised in Queens, New York, to a family of privilege, Donald Trump grew up in a 23-room house and was driven to private school by the family chauffeur. His father Fred Trump was a successful builder who took his four children to his construction sites on the weekends to find unused nails—so as to not waste any materials.

Fred Trump told his sons “win, be killers,” according to Gwen Blair, who wrote the biography The Trumps. While Donald Trump was able to rise to prominence in the family business, his older brother, Fred Jr., had more difficulties following in his father’s footsteps. Fred Trump wanted to become a pilot, but ended up suffering from alcoholism and died at the age of 43 as a result.

“I never had a glass of alcohol in my life,” Trump said in a CNN interview, citing Fred’s experiences as to why he never drank.

Trump told biographer Michael D’Antonio that he was not well-behaved in school and even threw an eraser at a teacher. His family eventually sent him to military school in upstate New York where Trump liked the out-front competitive environment, according to Blair. He played sports and was popular with his classmates.

Trump went on to University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business but spent his weekends in New York working in the family business.

The key to Donald Trump, according to writer Timothy O’Brien, is that his family’s wealth allowed him “to pursue his appetites and really do whatever he wanted to do for most of his life with very few restraints.”


Warm up questions (before watching the video)

1) What do you think Donald Trump was like as a child?
2) What qualities do you think are important in a presidential nominee?
3) What do you know about Donald Trump’s life outside of his business and television career?

  Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)

1) How does candidate image impact how Americans vote?
2) Did learning more about Trump’s childhood and family life affect your view of him? Explain.
3) With the election still almost four months away, who do you think will be the next president of the United States? Why?

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