Education Affords the Choices ~ Honorable Jobs ARE the Good Jobs

From the MRW Water Cooler:

Q: Mike, I’m a public school teacher in Texas, one of the lowest ranking states in education. I’m doing what I can one 8th grader at a time.

Would it be offensive to the people who go out and work these dirty jobs every day (yes I know I need them to keep my cozy little world running!) to reference some of the ones I’ve seen as a “stay in school” message? It’s my job to use what kids like to try and motivate them, and they love this show. I’m not all about political correctness, but I get huffy when people say I teach because I couldn’t go out and get a real job. So, I just wondered if it would be insulting to imply these might be jobs they could avoid. — kj

I think you’ve answered your own question.

If someone used you as an example of why the teaching field should be avoided, you might get “huffy.” I suspect anyone who takes some pride in what they do might feel the same way, regardless of the job.

I just helped a school in FL with a DJ Career Day. The focus was not on the consequences of not finishing school – but on the many different jobs necessary to keep society running. The kids were left to draw their own conclusions, and ponder the kinds of jobs rarely discussed as viable options.

When it comes to earning a living, I’d be very careful about drawing a distinction between good jobs and bad jobs. It’s true that a lot of people see a “cautionary” message in Dirty Jobs. Well, people tend to find what they look for. And ignore what they don’t want to see.

If it were me, I’d be suggesting that some jobs are better paying and more “glamorous” than others, but no less honorable. I’d stress that an education will afford your students more choices, and more choices are always good.   Mike

5 thoughts on “Education Affords the Choices ~ Honorable Jobs ARE the Good Jobs

  1. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand kj’s reasoning.

    The children love the show.

    The show therefore, can be used as a wonderful example of how any job, no matter how dirty, can be fulfilling. That any job can be done well and be something in which one can take pride.

    Instead, the show is to be used as a warning: “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

    Instead of affording the children an opportunity to discover the positive and important attributes of skilled labor, they will be told that this show they enjoy, is one meant to alarm them.

    Encouraging the children to view these jobs as menial is shocking.

    Nothing that encourages disdain, prejudice, and self-conceit has any place being taught in schools.

  2. I think the “value” of education is too often expressed in monetary terms. Education can be valuable in many ways. It introduces people to a world of ideas they may not ever know about had they not been required to take a particular class. Just the exposure to knowledge alone can improve ones quality and enjoyment of life. There is no shame in any kind of work that earns a living, as long as it is legal, and not meant to hurt people. There may be exceptions, but being “dirty”, or not requiring college should not be factors.


  3. Hey kj,

    I am a teacher struggling to reach kids one student at a time as well – but I totally need to respond to your “negative” use of DJ or mrW. Negativity is generally a short-term motivator and I don’t think it will encourage anyone to stay in school for the long-haul. In my experience with “at risk” kids (hate that term, but all educators seem to understand it) the main thing they need is increased self-esteem and an exploration of many reasonable viable options for their future. They are more apt to chose gangs or illegal activity to avoid “gross” jobs as to stay in school. My kids love Mike and Dirty Jobs – probably initially for the humor. I use the show and this website to demonstrate an incredible work ethic and respect for all workers that is so well portrayed here. The stay-in-school message is a different road altogether. I do thank you, kj, for caring so deeply about your kids.


  4. I agree completely with your answer to kj, Mike, and fully support what you are doing here.

    That particular comment about teachers is irksome to me too, kj, as we have several teachers in my family, so I know it is a lie.

    csg, I appreciate your work, and agree that this site is great resource.


  5. My dad once told me “you’re not supposed to enjoy your job.”

    This came from a man who, with no education but plenty of smarts, made a wonderful life for his family. I had all the comforts a child needed, and I’m grateful for it.

    His job eventually killed him (asbestos), and that – combined with that first bit of wisdom – drove me to an educated life. I wanted choices. I wanted to be proud of what I did. But most of all I wanted to enjoy the choices I made.

    What I wish for my son and all other children is that no matter what path they take (dirty or not), if you don’t enjoy it… it’s not living.

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