May 3, 2018

Word: A chore culture for kids

Annie Holmquist, Intellectual Takeout  The other day, NPR wrote a feature article about a unique program at John Bowne High School in New York City. Despite being in the heart of one of the biggest metropolises in the United States, John Bowne runs an agricultural program for upwards of 500 students.
Known as “Aggies,” these students “grow crops, care for livestock and learn the rudiments of floriculture, viticulture, aquaculture, biotechnology and entrepreneurship.”
According to NPR, such a program is an excellent addition to the high school curriculum because agriculture is a booming industry. The students who participate in the program will accumulate a wide variety of hands-on experience with which they can land a job in the agriculture sector, a job which may even pull their families out of poverty.
But while this is a great reason to encourage such a program, I think there’s a deeper reason why more schools – both urban and rural – should consider a similar one. In a nutshell, such a program promotes what one might call a “chore culture,” a culture which instills hard work, responsibility, and the knowledge of basic skills which today’s society has lost.


Tom Puckett said...

Agree... when I applied to William & Mary, early decision, one of the deciding factors in my acceptance was my 72 hour work week in high school.

I got up at 5am to deliver 3 Washington Post paper routes, went to the Beall's small truck farm at the intersection of Kirby & Chesterbrook and worked until noon, then mowed several yards until it was time to deliver two Evening Star paper routes. After dinner, a few more yards to mow...

By lights out at 9pm I didn't have time or the will to get into any trouble... a side benefit.

Working on the farm I was often told off to go pick beans or thin corn. John Beall (his father owned half of McLean) was in his 70s and looked like he didn't have two dimes to rub together. He paid me $1 per hour at first. He would take me in the tractor wagon to the string bean rows with 10 bushel baskets, to pick down the mile-long rows.

When I had filled up 9.75 baskets he would come along with another 10 bushel baskets and would ask me if I needed some catsup to be able to fill that last quarter of a bushel on this time table...

To thin corn you must pull up all but the two strongest plants, about 6" high at that point, in each corn hill, drilled in about 3" apart. The planting driller is set for four to six kernels per hill: "One for fox, one for crow, one to rot and one to grow."

The rows seem to go on for miles and working with no hat (my bad) in the hot sun, you pull literally thousands of unneeded plants to get the corn crop that exemplifies, later in the summer. Nice yellow field corn / horse corn, by the way - none of this tender white corn or hybrid you see so much of these days!

The point of all this seems to have been that it taught me what I was capable of and set me up for my current passion, doing thousands of individual actions, then on the farm, now on my 10- 20- 40- or 72-to-the-inch needlepoint... and 72 is almost 5,200 stitches per square inch...

Our condo just received a ruling that one of our young residents can mow the grass- with supervision- from DCRA Child Protective Services. They said it teaches skills and builds character... And so around it goes... culture is a spiral, since time stretches the circle out into three dimensions!

Cheers, Tom

MAMADOC said...

TOM: NO TIME FOR READING WORTHWHILE THINGS IS NOT SO GOOD, BUT IF DOING HARD LABOR SAVED YOU FROM IDLENESS THAT DESTROYS CHARACTER AS MUCH AS AN AGILE MIND, SO BE IT. The notion that "children" need to be kept from working is bizarre... though its rationale consistent to some degree with false economic principles... However, the worst argument is the one about their not being exploited --as if it were ok to exploit adults... "just don't do it to innocent children" is implied or outrihtly spoken... But, what are such exloitable adults guilty of, if I may ask? That Old Testament is to blame for perpetrating the first most absurd notion of all: that work is God's punishment for Adam and Eve's disobedience regarding the blooming "apple" responsible for our untimely Fall... That one chapter certainly begs to be rewritten by a less perverted disposition than the ancient Jews managed to concoct!