I came across this article today entitled, “Can Work Ethic Be Learned?” While the article teeters about that yes, it can be learned among young adults, it is harder to instill in children.
I’d like to politely disagree with this claim. As a child, I grew up in rural Ohio in a working class family and community. I had chores, such as cleaning my room, doing the dishes, taking the dog outside, etc. When I was a little tyke (like, elementary school age), I vaguely remember earning a small allowance for such tasks; however, as I became older, the household chores and responsibilities became expected of me – if I wanted money, then it was clear I would have to earn it myself.
Now, I was far from the “golden child” and my mother would probably argue that I was the devil in disguise. Sure, I complained about my chores and maybe even threw a few tantrums, but I completed them (sometimes reluctantly) and if I did not do so, then I didn’t earn any allowance or was banned from something I loved, such as talking on the phone for hours on end to friends I’d seen for 8 hours that very day.
Back in the ’80′s and ’90′s, my parents were just as busy as the parents of today, so I scoff when people use that excuse as to why kids today have minimal work ethic. Day in and day out, I watched as my parents ran a household, got us to school, helped us with homework, made our meals and held down full-time jobs. Perhaps I was more observant since I didn’t have an iPhone or computer in front of my face, so should we blame technology for children’s poor work ethic?
As an observer, I was able to understand the importance of hard work. If I wanted to achieve something or just wanted money to purchase a materialistic item (which was usually the case in my teen years), then I had to work for it. So I did. I scooped fries at a fast-food restaurant after school until 10pm; I got up with the sun to walk through the blazing hot cornfields for $250 for a month of work; I baby-sat, cleaned offices, and served copious amounts of beer to golfers as they left me a twenty-five cent tip.
None of these jobs were glamorous, but they certainly made me appreciate the jobs I have now. Even still, I constantly find myself working toward something better. Because of my work ethic, I always think I can strive a bit farther in my career. While I can certainly feel satisfied with my job(s), there is always room for improvement.
Can work ethic be learned? It can certainly be taught to children in the form of parents and other adults modeling what work ethic looks like, as well as giving responsibility to children. Minimize the hand-holding that many of today’s children are used to and give them something to do other than stare at their iPads all day. They might surprise you.