Early in this school year, we had conferences with 6 teachers, 2 gifted coordinators and 2 counselors. At each of them, we were told how kind our kids are, how concerned they are for others, what good attitudes they have and how confident they are.
During one of the conferences, “work ethic” was brought up. While I understand the concern a teacher might have over this attribute, given the child it was attached to, I was bothered.
We have a child who has her future planned out. She sees it and believes it. She’s had it planned out for years and it’s quite possible that she may not go to college – that she will choose to graduate early, start a business, and take a few college courses over the years to get more training.
And this is troubling to some. The majority of people in the US hold the belief that college is a must.
Additionally troubling is, how do you motivate a child to strive for perfect grades, when they might not be necessary? Or when they are not motivated by external praise, but by internal satisfaction and what they find meaningful?
It was during the course of discussing this with the teachers, that work ethic came up. This conversation got me thinking about what that means. Can it be subjective? Or is there a clearly defined meaning – one that implies working hard without question, regardless of anything else, eg: values.
I’m thinking our schools and society expect and accept only the latter.
This child, who had her work ethic called into question, is immensely focused, driven, and has taught herself things I could never learn. But she is not a people-pleaser. She is a free-spirited, marches-to-her-own-beat thinker and doer. And she does it with no ill-will or disrespect.
Do I think that if, when she is an adult, and by chance her children were starving, that she would sit around and do nothing? Absolutely not! She would bust her butt to provide, like most.
But do I think it’s reasonable to expect a child to be motivated solely on external factors or what pleases others? I’m not so sure. What is that teaching our children? We should be just as appreciative of free-thinking and new idea and perspectives.
What do you think? Is there a balance or is work ethic all-or-nothing?