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BFTP: The blessing of (school) work

Ora et labora - Pray and labor. St. Benedict


Non-Sequiter, September 1, 2012

I'm not sure why "work" has such a negative connotation in U.S. society. Perhaps it is a residual sentiment from times when most "work" was physical - dirty, dangerous, and exhausting.

I've thought a great deal about "work" and its place in my life  - how it has defined me, shaped me, and rewarded me. While it has not always been true all the time about every job I've had, I have generally been blessed with work that gives me pleasure and my life meaning. My son-in-law's sermon lone week talked about St. Benedict and his observation that work and prayer can be one and the same. And that "work" is not the same as employment. I would agree.

When unemployment rates are too high, when job opportunities seem to be lacking, and when people seem to be unable to advance at their place of work or in their careers, the problem is too often framed as simply economic. And while it's absolutely true that everyone ought to be able to put a roof over one's head, purchase healthy food for one's table and give one's family decent medical care and an education, we focus far too much on the monetary rewards of work rather than the psychological rewards. The real tragedy of a lack of work is when people can't find joy in life and form a positive view of themselves. It's not really about taxpayers needing to fund welfare or unemployment payments. People without meaningful work are living a diminished life.

Everyone should take pleasure and find meaning in their work. 

This includes students and their school "work." Whether in class or out of class, any task a teacher gives needs to be given thoughtfully, mindful of how its successful completion defines, shapes, and rewards the student's sense of him or herself. Why should students not look forward to school work as much as many adults look forward to going to work?

It's the challenges, the problems, the obstacles, and the work (see cartoon above), that make life pleasurable. Think about it as your "work" week begins again tomorrow.

Original post September 3, 2012

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Reader Comments (2)

Are you going to follow up with an article on "The blessing of (school) play"?

October 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

I will think about a follow-up. I guess I though the blessing of play was self-evident. Maybe not to some teachers!


October 18, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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