Good Work

For many, work may or may not be enjoyable, but it is doable. They have the proclivities and skill sets to manage their tasks, and with the appropriate disposition and drive, will continue to reap the rewards of their work as well as have opportunities to expand. This is true for any work, including school, from the earliest years, although certainly skill sets, habits, and mastery develop over time.

For many others, work and school may or may not be enjoyable, but can be extremely difficult to do. They may have circumstances and/or proclivities that impede their abilities to develop skill sets and manage their tasks, and perhaps for a variety of reasons, lack the appropriate disposition and drive to work. It is certainly easier (and more rewarding) to teach,parent,coach,manage, and inspire talented and driven kids and adults. What about those, who for any number of reasons, do not respond positively to the work? For those who are successful (in any sense), it is difficult to understand why those less successful don’t just adopt successful practices. It is frustrating for those trying to educate, parent, coach or manage those who don’t “get with the program”.

Our attempts to develop good students and good workers are fueled by our cultural concepts of work (and success). We seem to be a bit confused. In the last generation, we have seen not just an increase in busyness, but a cultural shift that supports busyness. Perhaps we are confusing busyness with good work.

We can do a better job of supporting our next generation meet the adult world and its attendant tasks, by allowing kids to experience work as more than being busy. For some kids, work is particularly effortful when circumstances and proclivities inhibit abilities and attention. They are often not able to be effective. While we may not all be able to do ideal work or derive joy from our jobs, we can do good work in our communities. Many schools over the last generation have added community service requirements. (I don’t like the term community service as it connotes parole.) The intention to create caring citizens is indeed admirable. Now we need to extend what was started, to  truly value work that contributes to others as good work.  Too often kids accumulate hours without connecting to new people or ideas. This is busyness, even when the tasks are for good causes. Much of the busyness of our lives is necessary, but we could still be less busy and do better work, by expanding “the program” and including all types of kids and adults. Contributing to others and broadening and strengthening our communities, and yes, bridging our schools to the greater community, strengthens the best in all of us and enables us to discover skill sets that may not have been tapped thus far.

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