Monday, April 9, 2012

Work Ethic and Today's Teens

One of my former students came by my office to see me today. She was in my biology class two years ago, and she'll come by and tell me how she's doing in chemistry and life in general. Today she came by to tell me about a speech she had given at a conference she goes to each year. For the speech, she created an acronym for WORK.

W - Willingness 

O - Opportunity 

R - Reward 

K - Kindness

She had prepared and given a speech centered around work. And she came in third place in the conference! Wow!

Her speech topic got me thinking about the teenagers that are in our schools today. We notice a different work ethic with them. Do they have work ethic? Is it just expressed differently? Where does work ethic come from? How do you teach it?

Generation Z - born around 1990 to 2001, the students of today - have been accused of being lazy. The online communicators. The multi-taskers.

Click here to read what Huffington Post wrote about Generation Z.

Many articles about working with Generations Y and Z can be found on the Internet. Here's one by Kelly Services, and click here to read one by Reliable Plant. All the business articles have a common theme... how to work WITH them.

In terms of school.... school still looks a lot like school did before the Baby Boomer generation. What are we doing as educators to work with students on their work ethic? As Geneva Gay writes in Culturally Responsive Teaching, Success does not emerge out of failure, weakness does not generate strength.

How do we teach kids not to fail at work ethic? How do we teach them what it is and how to get it? I like how KLO Middle School designed a work ethic rubric to be used in each class. Is it possible to use something like this at the high school level?

Who taught you work ethic, and how can we teach Generation Z?

1 comment:

  1. In several of my jobs I have worked with Gen Zers and believe me when I say they have no work ethic. Because they are constantly connected in school and with tech they often seem bored at work. They haven't learned how to stay busy during the slower times or take the initiative to clean or straighten their department or area. Being on time, keeping a commitment, and putting forth extra effort all seem to be foreign to them.

    Athletics taught me a lot about working hard and developing a work ethic. I personally was not a practice player, so pushing myself to work hard every play was a struggle for me. With that being said, I learned to work efficiently and to focus on the little details. Those 2 things helped me to work faster and smarter.