May 4, 2011

Thoughts on Work (and Education) - A Sort of Rant

One of the things I've been amazed to find out in my adult life is how it's become almost a taboo to work hard. People who use their back to get things done are looked down upon. When did hard work become such a shameful thing?

I come from a very long line of women who work(ed) hard on a regular basis. Every day. My father and his father and those before him busted their backs to get where they are. And my husband is one of the hardest working people I know, never stopping for anything and never complaining. And we have a great sense of pride in the fact that the things we have, we have worked hard for.

I think we have gotten to an age where we worship at the Altar of Education (and money). The best thing you can do with your life is graduate college with some fancy degree so you can earn billions of dollars. But you know what I've noticed? Those people that have those pieces of paper get out into the world and don't know how to work. (I have to be completely honest here and tell you I've only completed some college - but I sure do know how to work.)

As a mother raising children I've found it to be especially sad, or disturbing, that a lot of parents (from what I've witnessed) aren't concerned with teaching their children how to actually live. Laundry? Umm, how? Cook? That's what the microwave is for! Be happy to sweep floors just to earn a living? Not on your life.

We push "higher" education, spending thousands of dollars or, worse yet, plummeting ourselves and our children into debt to serve what purpose? Most people who get their degrees either get to the end and realize they don't want to do what they were taught, or they can't find the work in that field so they must go somewhere else to get a paycheck, usually something "below" them because it requires one to work hard.

And that's wrong! Horrible! Ugh, I have this fancy piece of paper that should allow me to sit on my butt and command people to do things, but I'm stuck here using my back to earn a living. Greed. That's the motivation.

Whatever happened to parents who trained their children in the way they work? What happened to apprentices? What happened to just being proud of the fact that you've worked hard for the little bit you have and not worrying about spending the next 4-10 years of your life in more school without actually living your life.

I think I heard it put best on a podcast I enjoy called Homemakers by Choice. Are we teaching our children to go to college to seek knowledge (as we should) or teaching them to go to college to seek money?

I'm all for learning as much as you possibly can about anything. Push yourself, become more knowledgeable. Ben and I have both thought about going back to school. And I'll of course be encouraging my children to go to college once we get to that point. But if they decide not to? I won't force them, and I won't be upset if they don't. Because we'll have taught them how to work. Honest to goodness work. How to live and enjoy life, no matter their education level. And we'll have taught them that in the end, that's all that matters.

Not that pretty piece of paper on the wall.

Workin' hard,

P.S. - I in no way mean this as an attack on people who do seek higher education. I applaud those who have expanded their brains and lives! I've just become frustrated that college is now the meaning of life and we look down upon just living simply and quietly and working hard.


Allison said...

Most definitely hard work is the key to both inner and outer success. There are many ways to work hard, and I applaud those who find satisfaction and joy in working the land, so to speak! Especially those who have the opportunity to do that.

Often I have commented to my entourage that all I am paid for is "words, words, words"! In the end, words will not feed my kids, but the money I earn writing them does.

Sitting at a computer, for me, is not physical work, but it hurts my back and my arms and my fingers and my legs. My head throbs at the end of the day, and I am tense in a way that no farmer is. And I ask myself... which is harder? I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. My husband grew up a farmer and he'd give anything to work the land. He says it's easier and less stressful than working in a watch factory. It may be that our society has replaced physical labor with mental stress - but I'm undecided as to which is genuinely harder.

A thought-provoking post.

Farm Girl said...

Wow Megan!! I am very proud of you Ben and how hard you both work. As my Dad used to tell us with that piece of paper and a quarter you can buy a cup of coffee.
Always it is about character and not education that gets jobs. In the things I read, employers aren't looking for pieces of paper but people who will work and take pride in the work they do.
It is always a fine line to walk.

Dawn said...

If I was standing next to you I would hug you right now. And applaud. You get what my heart feels.
Thanks for this post!

Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

I am in such complete agreement with you. Very well said. It's sad but true.

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