Monday, September 26, 2011

Work and Life: Getting it Right

I've a piece in today's Canberra Times, 'The work/life divide: time to think about getting it right'.

I'm exploring the dangers of imbalance, and the need to start early: teaching kids that career, marriage and parenthoods are negotiated, not divinely decreed.  A sample:
Work/life balance is not only an issue for early middle-age and older. On the contrary, it starts young, in upbringing and schooling. Kids deserve to be taught, as early as possible, that these choices are choices – and not predetermined stages of life. The path from schooling to career, for example, can be swift and simple. But there is no shame in a little dawdling, idling or vocational recalcitrance. Blithely loafing from one abortive career to another is one thing, but mindful curiosity is another. Ethics and philosophy classes might help – a little less indoctrination, a little more critical thinking. But most importantly, children will also learn by example: parents who demonstrate their willingness to do things differently. Swapping chores, forgoing absurd mortgages, turning off the television and work mobile, engaging in genuine, open debate about finances or employment – each is a small education in value. We might fail, but our failure may be avoided for the next generation. Work/life juggling is best developed by learning to balance early.
(Photo: Darjac)


Melita said...

I am concerned that I am modelling the blithe loafer.

I also believe in teaching balance early. I think homework is generally unnecessary and the last thing that children should be doing after being at school all day. We could all do with more time to think, read and play. I read somewhere a while ago that the term ‘work/life balance’ is silly – it’s all just life. I liked that. There should be no great dividing line; work is a part of life, not extraneous to it. The term itself encourages us to think that that work and life must be at war.

Daniel Keating said...

great article, it certainly speaks to me!

Damon Young said...

Thanks, Melita. 'Work/life' is accurate, in that it suggests work is opposed to life - this true for many families. But it's false in that it suggests it must be so.

The important thing is identifying what's valuable for our families, rather than just doing what's 'done'.

Homework, for example, is often pointless busywork. Kids can play at home - or read, or cook, or garden - and learn more. We need not give up education by giving up take-home chores.