How to Teach Work Ethic? Who Teaches Work Ethic?

How to Teach Work Ethic? Who Teaches Work Ethic?
Posted on 11/20/2017
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us reflect upon our blessings. Family, friends, health and physical possessions or comforts often make the list of things for which we are thankful. Unfortunately, the ability and opportunity to work for an honest wage often gets left off the list. Too many of us take our opportunity to work for granted. Even worse, many view work simply as the obligation that gets in the way of doing what we enjoy, rather than the blessing that affords us the opportunity to do such things. As parents, educators, and employers, it is imperative that we teach our children to value hard work and perseverance. Such work ethic is a cornerstone of the American experience.

So, what is work ethic? Many have written on the subject and attempted to capture the critical components. Most will agree there are elements of motivation, perseverance, pride, discipline, and integrity among others. At the core is the idea that a person has some internal motivation to do a job well. There is a sense of pride and self satisfaction in doing a job to the best of our ability. This is especially true when the work requires problem solving and overcoming unforeseen obstacles. Work ethic is that desire to succeed regardless of the task before us or the circumstances around us.

Who’s responsible for teaching work ethic? Like many other responsibilities, it is easy to defer to another group. It is easy for the employer to say, “Why can’t they teach that in school?”. The school can just as easily blame the parents or the home environment. The parents, in turn, can point to negative experiences or circumstances. In reality, it is a collective responsibility. Only by modeling a consistent, positive view of work in all environments (home, school, employment), can we hope to raise a new generation with a positive work ethic.

How do we go about the task of instilling work ethic? Direct instruction is definitely a part. Those of us in public education are committed to incorporating lessons, activities and experiences that teach work ethic into our instruction. This instruction, however, is only a part. As parents, we do a great deal to influence our children’s view of work. Do the work stories we tell tell at the dinner table and in the car on the way home from school show our children we are proud of our accomplishments? Can they sense an appreciation for the opportunity to work or do we only vent our frustrations? Do we talk about how we have helped others and contributed to society or simply drone on about our unfair boss and rude coworker? How we speak about work makes a powerful impression on our children. Finally, employers have a significant impact. By recognizing and rewarding employees who go the extra mile, we communicate that strong work ethic is valued and set a standard to which our co-workers can aspire.

Great opportunities await those who are willing to work. We are blessed to live in a community and a country where hard work and determination is rewarded. This Thanksgiving, I am personally grateful for the opportunity to live, work and serve in Mexico, MO. I am thankful for my staff at Hart Career Center and all the dedicated employees of Mexico Public Schools. I am thankful for our local business partners and the time they dedicate to helping us improve the quality of our programs. I am extremely grateful for our parents who send us their children, trusting us not only to teach them to read and write, but to help mold their work ethic. Finally I am proud of our students. I often hear adults grumble about “kids these days” and their lack of work ethic. I am blessed to see counterexamples of this every day. If we each do our part to encourage them, our children will have no problem keeping the American dream alive.