My perspective on work has evolved since we became the owner/operators of a small family restaurant. Before we assumed the role of employers, I hadn’t given more than a cursory thought to my children’s future employment situation. I mean, I knew they must have jobs and I recognized the importance of discussing vocations with my children, but I was unaware of the very real problems that are facing today’s youth when it comes to their long-term employment picture.
Now as an employer, I no longer enjoy that ignorance. Now I see first-hand the sad results of what happens when the workforce is ill-prepared for the duties of work.
Whiny, Entitled Workers
We’ve all seen the memes that depict today’s whiny, entitled generation. We’ve watched the videos of clueless or tantruming twenty-somethings who lack the basic drive to turn off the video games and earn a paycheck. It’s a sad picture and sadder still, it is the reality we are facing.
Continuing on the current path, this reality is going to effect the business of tomorrow. Even today, businesses like my family’s are struggling to find workers who have basic skills, a drive to accomplish their duties and a sense of responsibility to show up on time and put in an honest day’s work.
Home Schoolers Can Change the Picture
Here’s the thing though, we, as home schoolers, have the ability to change this situation. We have the ability, well, really we have the duty, to teach our children how to work. We are raising tomorrow’s workers, entrepreneurs and inventors. Our president talks about Making America Great Again, and that greatness depends in large part on our ability to instill a sense of dignity and purpose in the next generation so that they will have the determination and drive to lead in all avenues of industry.
When I only had little ones, I didn’t give much thought to their work ethic. I was just interested in getting them to clean up their toys, put their dirty cup in the sink and flush the toilet. My vision was focused on teaching them to help out around the house so that I wasn’t doing everything myself. ***Here’s an fyi, I’m still working on this and it’s been more than 20 years now…But I digress.
Crucial Lessons Were Being Learned
So, when my kids were little I was only looking at the close-up reality: that I wanted workers to help me rather than me doing everyone’s dirty work 24/7. However, now as an employer I realize that those lessons, that I was trying to teach right from the early days, are crucial. They are enduring lessons that shape the way my now adult children function in the world and the workplace.
It’s from this new understanding that I began to look more critically at the way technology and modern practices are effecting the way our children understand the concept of work. And make no mistake, technology and modern practices are effecting them and not necessarily in positive ways. Am I suggesting that we go back in time, that we go backwards or that all progress is bad? No, but what I am saying is that new doesn’t automatically equate to improved.
In episode 1 of Teach Your Children How to Work, I cover:
- The history of work. We cannot and really should not sit around pining for yesterday, but there is still value in pondering yesterday and asking ourselves what lessons we can learn from it.
- Apprenticeships were once a standard practice. Sons were expected to carry on the family business or young men would contract to work under a master tradesman, for a time, in order to learn his skills. Such agreements allowed young people to not only learn from the master teacher’s professional skills, but to also learn something about his or her work ethic.
How can we as home schoolers better prepare our children for the workplace? I think we can start by honestly evaluating the example they are seeing from us. Because unlike little Laura Ingalls or the children of a farmer, many children today do not see work in action. Many have no idea what it is the mom and/or dad actually do for a living. And with retirement being a standard goal, most children see grandparents who no long work.
A few things that I cover which have effected our children’s concept of work:
- Stay-at-home workers. Most of today’s stay-at-home workers are changing a child’s understanding of work. The child of a farmer watched his dad rise before dawn. He saw him tend to the field and the livestock. He probably was called in to participate in some capacity. Now compare that with the parent who works from home on a computer. For the most part, working on a computer looks similar to playing on a computer. Now I’m not saying computer work isn’t work, but to a child it doesn’t look very different than other social or leisure time spent on a computer.
- I suggest practical strategies to give your children a more accurate understanding of what work entails.
- Communication break-down. Effective communication skills can keep us safe, disseminate accurate information, inform and correct us, help us get what we need. Technology has changed our way of communicating, but that isn’t always a positive thing. Our current technology has its advantages, but the familiarity that it’s breeding in the age of text-speak is leading to a break-down in our understanding of a need to show respect for authority in the manner in which we communicate.
- I share simple skills that every child needs to learn to make them more effective communicators.
A Challenge for Home Schoolers
As a small business owner in the service industry today, the available workforce could (and does some days) cause me to lose hope. But, as a home schooler, I see it as a challenge. A challenge for which I am well-positioned to effect a real change. As a home schooler I can better form my own children to be good workers and, by extension, I’ll be giving them an advantage over their peers while making this country (and world) the great place it was meant to be.
Tune-in to my next podcast as I continue this discussion on Teaching Children How to Work. I’ll cover teaching the value of Hierarchy in the work place, why appearances really do still matter, how GPS has effected our ability to problem solve, reasons for engaging your children in manual labor, intrinsic motivation and creativity, discerning vocations and the benefits of a positive attitude.