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Author Topic: Teaching Children the value of hard work
Ray Bingham
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Does anyone out there have any simple ideas on how to teach children the value of hard work?

Especially I'd like ideas that doesn't actually involve any hard work on my part... you know... um...

Oh wait... I think I'm seeing a problem here...

--Ray

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Rte66
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Ray,

I worked for a brilliant man that once told me:
quote:
I love hard work... I can watch it all day!

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Ron
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I believe there should be work farms for students who make poor grades. They go there and work for one semester and then come back to school. Work ethics are not instinctive, but early exposure to work definately helps develop an ethic.
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simplybiological
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chores are good.
i had certain chores that were part of my household duties, that i had to do.
there were optional chores i could do for extra money.

speaking of allowances, my parents did a really cool thing- when i turned 13, i got my age per week in allowance. it sounds like a lot, but it was to encompass all my purchases... and if i wanted, say, brand name jeans, i had to pay the difference between what my mom was willing to pay and what the ones i wanted were. i learned how to manage my money, how to save from month to month, etc... much more so than my friends who would say, "mom, can i have $20?" and just get it.

ron, not all students who get poor grades do so because they lack the ability to work hard. conversely, many intelligent students never do a lick of work and get great grades.

[ April 23, 2004, 09:14 PM: Message edited by: simplybiological ]

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Ron
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I agree, not "all" do, but I would bet the number is in the most catagory.
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FIJC
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quote:
"I believe there should be work farms for students who make poor grades. They go there and work for one semester and then come back to school. Work ethics are not instinctive, but early exposure to work definately helps develop an ethic."
Do you honestly think that a coercive use of force will give children a work ethic?
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Ron
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You mean like making them mow the lawn when they are bad? Grounding children when they get bad grades? Or showing them what awaits those who eschew a good education?

I think the answer to those three examples is yes. Coercion takes all kinds of forms and is a hot botton word.

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FIJC
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quote:
"You mean like making them mow the lawn when they are bad? Grounding children when they get bad grades? Or showing them what awaits those who eschew a good education?"
There is a difference between state initiated coercion and coercion from parents to their children. It is the parent's duty to raise their children and instill their morals and values into their offspring. The same really isn't true for government; it isn't their proper role.
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Ron
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Not all parents have access to work farms. Perhaps it might be better to have the option open to those with bad grades. In a sense it might be like the draft, which, if your grades dropped in college, you would become "eligible".
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FIJC
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quote:
"Not all parents have access to work farms. Perhaps it might be better to have the option open to those with bad grades. In a sense it might be like the draft, which, if your grades dropped in college, you would become "eligible"."
We already have military schools, which are philosophically very close/compatible to the same concept as work farms would be. I am not sure how successful military schools are in reforming troubled children, but would be interested in seeing such stats.

Also, you seem to be equating bad grades to laziness; this is not always the case. Some kids have ADD, dyslexia, or other learning problems that they really can't help. Conversely, I can personally obtain high marks with very little studying. Does that make me morally any better than a relatively lazy student who receives poor marks? I don't think it does, it just means that I can get away with more.

I think that personality dyfunctions are more indicative of poor behavior and habits than grades.

And I don't think it was ever the case that people with bad grades in college were somehow eligible for the draft because of their grades; attendence in college was already a deferment, I think.

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0Megabyte
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If all you're talking about is grades, then your ideas on 'work farms', in my view, are a very bad idea. Granted, I'm at the age which you are discussing, however, I would believe that taking kids who are already doing badly out of school to so-called 'work farms' [sounds more like a kindergarten concentration camp to me] all you'd do is cause trouble with these students, especially those who simply CAN'T get good grades, for reasons other than not working hard. [not mental disabilities, but other things. Many kids simply cannot get good grades. C's are special to these kids. I know, I see them everyday] There should be some things to give kids a harder work ethic, but the children have to learn it for themselves, if they are at higher grades. For instance, not being given allowences, having to pay for their own insurance, etc., are good ideas.

And another reason I dislike the idea of work camps: Many hard workers have low grades, and many people who do not work much just happen to be very smart, and don't HAVE to work to get good grades. So, if you ARE going to have work camps, grades are not the way to measure that. There's my two cents.

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Ron
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Military schools often are called in when students are discipline problems, not when their grades are low. They do not meet the criteria of "work farms". They are more like discipline areas. It is different.

And no I do not equate bad grades to laziness. I do equate most bad grades to laziness though. You can find all kinds of medical reasons (often excuses). But generally I think kids that want to learn, learn. By keeping the "work farm" open as a parent option, we allow the parents who have their childrens best interest in mind to exercise that option if they feel it is important.

The majority of students do not have personality dysfunctions. Now you can call laziness a personality dysfunction, but then you can call anything a personality dysfunction if you get right down to it. I bet if kids studied an hour every night, the education level of this country would soar beyond imagination. I bet most kids increased their grades substantially by studying more.

Note that I said "most kids". And I left such an option open to parents. I think both of these are qualifying points to be considered.

quote:
And I don't think it was ever the case that people with bad grades in college were somehow eligible for the draft because of their grades; attendence in college was already a deferment, I think.
A friend of mine from "Baytown" in Texas supervised golf courses. He told me how in college his first year was a great party, then his grades dropped and he recieved a notice of some sort that he would be eligible for the draft next semester. His grades popped right back up to a solid C (he was no scholar of course, but a good guy). I don't know the actual documentational detail, but it was a telling story.
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FIJC
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quote:
"Military schools often are called in when students are discipline problems, not when their grades are low."
My whole point is that personality problems/discipline issues are more indicative, or a better predictor, of a poor work ethic than bad grades are.
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Ron
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In my view, I believe that some people may even prefer working on farms to going to college. Most of the diffidence towards farm work seems to be that it is wrong, that it is a concentration camp.

quote:
And another reason I dislike the idea of work camps: Many hard workers have low grades, and many people who do not work much just happen to be very smart, and don't HAVE to work to get good grades. So, if you ARE going to have work camps, grades are not the way to measure that. There's my two cents.
If kids are smart, then hurrah for genetics or home environment. But that doesn't mean the criteria should change. A week working at something that some might view as unpleasant will help people understand what failure in the education system will entail. If you don't graduate from high school (based on grades) you won't make much more than minimum wage, that entails such unpleasant unskilled jobs as farm work. That is life and the reality of the situation. Students often don't realize that until after they graduate and so become low wage earners ending up in the same place that everyone pooh poohs as a temporary work farm.

If I changed the phrase from "work farm" to vocational education in agriculture" for those with poor grades, will that be more palatable?

Its what is done in Europe and Asia, you do not go to college unless you can pass certain tests (read get the grade). At least in Europe they plan for it. Here we just let it happen and then say "darn, wish we could have caught that".

I simply believe that parents should have the ability use that option for a short term work program. Some may like farming and choose to go investigate it more. It may also relieve them of the pressure of performing on a track that does not allow such vocational training.

A lot of options here, I wouldn't dismiss it so easily. Nor will I advocated getting rid of other programs that might help students. Its not a closed system.

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Ron
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quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Military schools often are called in when students are discipline problems, not when their grades are low."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My whole point is that personality problems/discipline issues are more indicative, or a better predictor, of a poor work ethic than bad grades are.

How do you tell the difference between personality problems/discipline issues and laziness or poor desire to work?
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FIJC
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quote:
"How do you tell the difference between personality problems/discipline issues and laziness or poor desire to work?"
My post never attempted to differentiate between laziness and personality problems. Rather, my post differentiated between laziness and poor grades, because one does not always indicate the other.

Laziness is a personality flaw and an indicator of a lack of discapline. Poor grades are not always an indicator of a poor work ethic. If you want to get to the source of a problem for a person, you would first look at their behavior.

[ April 23, 2004, 10:58 PM: Message edited by: FIJC ]

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Ron
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I believe the source is parents too, but grades as are an indicator. Again, not every child is lazy and not every child that makes bad grades is lazy. But wouldn't the parents know?

Should the option be open to the parents?

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FIJC
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quote:
"Should the option be open to the parents?"
This was never part of the original debate. In other words, it's a diversion from the original topic. I wasn't debating whether or not this choice should be open to parents, and your original post on the subject did not mention this either:

quote:
"I believe there should be work farms for students who make poor grades. They go there and work for one semester and then come back to school. Work ethics are not instinctive, but early exposure to work definately helps develop an ethic."
This post is not worded to sound like an "option." If you did mean for it to sound like an option, perhaps you should clarify your point a little better.

Also, you stated that:

quote:
"Military schools often are called in when students are discipline problems, not when their grades are low. They do not meet the criteria of "work farms". They are more like discipline areas. It is different."
My question for you is: Is having a good work ethic a form of personal discipline?

[ April 23, 2004, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: FIJC ]

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Ron
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quote:
This was never part of the original debate. In other words, it's a diversion from the original topic. I wasn't debating whether or not this choice should be open to parents, and your original post on the subject did not mention this either:

But alluded to in the third and fourth and not a diversion since taking that choice out of the hands of parents would make it unacceptable, however with it in parents hands it becomes viable if you believe parents work with the best interest of their children in mind and know their children best. It would bypass much of the debate regarding behavorial laziness.

quote:
This post is not worded to sound like an "option." If you did mean for it to sound like an option, perhaps you should clarify your point a little better
Well I did say:
quote:
Not all parents have access to work farms. Perhaps it might be better to have the option open to those with bad grades. In a sense it might be like the draft, which, if your grades dropped in college, you would become "eligible".
On my third post.

quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Military schools often are called in when students are discipline problems, not when their grades are low. They do not meet the criteria of "work farms". They are more like discipline areas. It is different."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My question for you is: Is having a good work ethic a form of personal discipline?

Yes it can, but someone can have good grades and still be a discipline problem. Don't you agree?
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FIJC
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quote:
"Yes it can, but someone can have good grades and still be a discipline problem. Don't you agree?"
Yes, but your criteria for these so-called work farms was only for those with poor grades.

quote:
"I believe there should be work farms for students who make poor grades."
This argument has become quite circular. [Big Grin] So if a poor work ethic is indicative of poor behavior and poor discipline, how would your work farms be any different in purpose from military schools?

[ April 23, 2004, 11:29 PM: Message edited by: FIJC ]

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Ron
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Military schools do not necessarily present a future option, in other words there is no strict guarrantee that you will go into the military. However it is a pretty sure bet you will be in a low wage job. A work farm would show how difficult low wage jobs are. Military schools do not show that, they become an abstract with a fixed end.
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Wwolfs
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quote:
But generally I think kids that want to learn, learn
If kids were adults, I would agree with you. High school kids, though, aren't "little adults," their internal dynamic is much different. They're reacting to physical changes, hormonal changes, still recovering from whatever shocks they got from bad parents, etc. Even poor behavoir is seldom the kid's "fault;" they're still very tightly bound by psychological imperatives and do not usually have the mental freedom that adults finally hammer out for themselves. (Well, some adults)

Not that I disagree at all with the conclusions either of you are drawing, merely the motivation.

Carry on *clap clap*

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musket
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Like anything else, inculcating the value of hard work in kids can be overdone, and have results contrary to expectations.

I did the usual yard chores for my allowance as a kid. Got my first job, as a carriage boy for a local supermarket, at 16... with the money I made there, I was able to buy my first good guitar. Later on worked at other jobs, packing and shipping stuff mostly, until time came that high school was done.

I was accepted at the one of most prestigious art schools in this country, Cooper Union in NYC. Cooper is unique in that there is no tuition, it is funded by a huge endowment and every student who is accepted (75 out of 450 applicants the year I went) gets the equivalent of a full scholarship. You must pay for textbooks, but that's it.

Now, there is no student housing at Cooper. No dorms. Either you live at home and commute, or you find housing for yourself. I had both options, since I grew up in northern NJ, only a stone's throw from Manhttan. But of course, I didn't want to live at home.

So I rented an apartment on the Upper West Side, for ninety bucks a month. I was still working a part-time job when I started attending Cooper, as a picture framer's apprentice.

It quickly became apparent to me that this would be an impossible situation to maintain. Cooper is not the sort of school where you have only a few classes a week. It was nine to four, five days a week, with tons of homework. So my typical weekday consisted of getting up early, taking the subway downtown, going to classes, getting out, going to work from five to nine, then going home to do my homework assigmments, and starting all over again.

It's one thing to work hard, but I'm sorry, but I just don't hold with all this eighty hour work week stuff many Americans seem to regard as a positive thing and a virtue. It's obsessive baloney, far as I'm concerned.

So I discussed the idea of subsidizing my rent with my folks. I'd still be working, but would be able to cut down my hours since I would only have to pay for books, meals, and whatever entertainment I could afford.

They wouldn't hear of it. My dad gave me the usual lecture about the value of hard work. Far a they were concerned, I could live at home and commute (about a one and half hour trip each way, by bus and subway, despite the relatively short distance) if I didn't want to work for my rent.

So it was either that, or keeping to a schedule that left me exhausted and turned what should have been a fun experience into a huge drag.

Six months later, I dropped out of Cooper. And a year and a half after that, they had to pay full tuition, and housing costs, when my sister was accepted at Douglas.

I don't regret it. I really didn't want to go to Cooper anyway; I'd also been accepted at RISD and the Philadelphia College of Art, both of which were far more progressive and appealing. But even though I got partial scholarships to both, Cooper was after all "free." I'm a working artist today, and I doubt having a degree would have made all that much difference to the way my life has gone. Success in teaching the arts is degree-dependant, success in actually doing art for a living is not.

Nonetheless, a degree never hurts. For a tad over a grand a year, my folks could have been assured that I would stay in school. The chose to be skinflints, not because they couldn't afford it-- they could have-- but because their ideas about work were screwy. There is a difference between hard work and lunacy.

I have always worked hard and I work hard today. But I'm sorry, I insist on having some time to smell the roses as well as prune them. I'm not the least bit surprised that the suicide rate among American teenagers today is as high as it is.

[ April 24, 2004, 02:20 PM: Message edited by: musket ]

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carmachu
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Simply put, you put them to work for rewards: money or whatever they want.

If they complete the tasks, they get paid. If they dont, or slack off, they dont.

Its really that simple. Worked wonders years ago when I was young.

carmachu

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Zyne
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I find dollars to be a goal I would not set for a child.

My minor children won't work while school is in session. They won't have their own cars, either. IMO, being at home and being a dependent is about going to school, having fun on a modest budget.

The job of a kid is going to school and studying, and if that is going well enough so that there is extra time and energy, then the job is taking on charity work, community service, college classes, other extra stuff that is worthwhile and broadening. Stuff that helps the kid get to where the kid wants to go, whether that place is college or not.

A reasonable but small amount of cash should be given for chores that don't interfere with school, and for good performance in school (not nesc. good grades--depends on the child). Enough cash to cover all unmet needs and a few wants--The value of the dollar can be taught by giving the kid cash to cover X expenses, and letting hir make decisions on what to acquire, when, etc.

As opposed to flipping burgers for sheer dollars which, well, gains dollars but little else.

Also, along with work farms, menial labor while in school devalues learning: We're going to make you into a better student by forcing you to shovel dirt all day (while you are, of course, not in the classroom or studying). Okay.....makes no sense.

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towellman
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I agree with Zyne's general points. (a first? [Smile] )

I think an ideal way to teach high school kids the value of work would be to find an paid internship/apprenticeship in something that could broaden their career perspective (like being a go-fer in a law office or something), apply some of the things they've learned in school (so it means more to them) or develops a potential lifelong hobby (like working in a woodworkers shop).

Yeah, not realistic for the general populace, I know. Actually, I'd be willing to pay my own kids (and make them stash most of it away in a Roth IRA so they can't blow it all) to do things that would "build character," teach responsibility, show how their classes apply to the real world (if any HS classes do) and builds their college applpications.

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Ray Bingham
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Nice comments everyone.

I also think that one of the worst things you can do to a teen is to buy them a brand new car. No matter how hard they plead for it, I just think that's something that should come with a lot of work.

I would think they could learn a lot of other values from taking care of a vehicle that wasn't brand new.

Of course every kid is different. Some lessons work better with some kids than others. And my oldest daughter is only seven, so I've got a few more years, but it's amazing how quickly these notions need to be instilled in them.

--Ray

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simplybiological
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everytime i asked for a car my dad would sing "get a job"... until i finally pointed out i actually *couldn't* get a job without a car, unless they wanted me to walk several miles to get there. they ended up buying me a used car cause i switched to the art school, about a 40 minute commute from home, and me driving there was really the most efficient solution.

ultimately, i ended up with a 10+ year old volvo with 135000 miles on it. i LOVED that car. despite my new toyota, i still sorta miss my tank-like first car.

i agree ray, that buying a teen a new car is ridiculous. they don't *need* a new car, it's silly for them to have one.

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Danzig
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Teach your kids that there is nothing inherently noble about hard work. Teach them that noble or not, they will probably have to do it for most of their lives.
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