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What Your Work Can Teach Kids

Wall Street Journal Blogs (New York, NY) , June 5, 2008


For a nation up to our necks in work, we teach our kids precious little about our jobs.

A continuing 10-year University of Chicago study of 250 young adults shows many teens don't understand the career paths open to them or the steps needed to travel the path of their choice. "Many middle-class parents think their children will get this knowledge from the school or college counselor," says Barbara Schneider, a University of Chicago sociology professor who has written a book about the study. In reality, parents need to work harder to convey what they know about the world of work, she says.

A good way to fill kids' knowledge gap is through an age-old art: Telling stories about your work. Relating workaday dramas and the values that guide you on the job can teach kids a lot about what it takes to succeed.


How to tell on-the-job stories your kids want to hear

  • Tell about problems and how you overcame them
  • Find good guys and bad guys
  • Pick situations you really care about
  • Include dialogue and details about human nature

There are tricks to telling the kind of stories kids want to hear. Many parents learn to their surprise that it's not their successes their kids want to hear; it's their struggles.

Subjects Covered: business, education

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