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  1. #1
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    Society's Expectations of Work and the Reform of Culture and Education

    Far too often we ask ourselves the meaning of our lives and mankind's existence. Some choose a deity as an explanation, others choose cosmic humility in that they accept perhaps there is no destiny or universal agenda. The fewer forge their own independent reasons for existence. Despite these differences in perspective we generally see forged ideal imbued within all societies: the value of the worker.

    Indeed we all can probably agree the worker is innately valuable for itself and society. But lately I've been questioning that worth and its placement in life. We seem to enjoy measuring our progress in this world based on our careers and work achievements, but I'm not particularly swayed by this position. No harm in being proud of your accomplishments or striving for a higher goal in your job, but it feels like it's too tightly wound around our species. A common question, here in the United States at least, is "What is your job?" or some variant of that.

    Let's consider what a job is, or rather what is 'work'. Is serving coffee at Starbuck work? What about pushing carts outside Wal-Mart? Is sitting atop a large business (metaphorically speaking) and letting those below you commit work in your name work, too? Most seem to think so. Hammering nails into the wood of a house for construction purpose is also work. Is swinging a hammer at empty air still work? Everyone reading this would probably say no. Originally I thought the reason for this view of action being work or not was determined directly by its benefit to society. I'm not longer confident in that answer now. Is a mother or father, one staying home to care for their children, working too? Is an artist who lives off welfare working? Is a college stupid without a recognized job also working?

    Traditionally we humans had a lot of free time before the rise of civilization, which was a result of the agriculture revolution. Once cometh the order of class-based society, we see that man had to strive deeply in his work and effort to survive. Cultures based on parameters that made efficient the available labor gave their society more time away from work. In society's with efficient means of labor, we see the rise of intellectualism and artistry. We see this culture expand and become varied and deep, the people educated and talented. With the great advents of technology such as the industrial revolution, one may speculate and hope with this technology we may be more free from the shackles of work. This has not been the case.

    The United States is the richest nation in the world, yet among first-world countries it's also the most overworked. The average American works 46 hours a week; slightly over 9 hours a day and 5 days a week, leaving about 4-5 hours of 'free' time a day. Assuming we sleep the healthy and recommended 8 hours every night (which is more than the average American sleeps), then we have about 66 hours of non-working or wakeful hours available every week. We spend roughly 41% of our lives supporting the other 59%. This is a two-to-three ratio, and it's increasing.

    Workers are stressed from work and their inadequate life rewards. People consume massive amounts of caffeine and carbonated beverages to keep themselves going. We're advertised the benefits of energy drinks as a promise to make us worker better and be less tired, and medicine is the remedy for the stress and it's eventual results. Here in the United States, heart disease is the #1, #2 is cancer, #3 is lung failure. At #4 is stroke. An extremely common factor for these deaths is stress, among other subsequent variables such as high blood pressure. For some there's a lack of time to exercise or eat properly. Currently many workers spend their off time attempting to remove the stress they've built up from their job.

    It seems despite so many wonderful advances we've made as a species, we're still working as long as we have before. We have more food and abundance of resources ever (even in in ratio to our population, yes), yet we still have this powerful group ethic to drive ourselves to work and work and work. If you don't work for society then apparently you've innately useless, or even a failure. However, the cause for this work time and stress is a result of simple abuse and mismanagement of our available resources. In the US for instance, money is severally unbalanced among the economic and working classes. In fact the dichotomy is the worst it's been in over half a century. We're just so terrified of 'lazy', which is a common misnamor, that we work ourselves do death and scorn time to ourselves and live some hours with recreational and self-benefit activities.

    I reject the idea that all work is good. I believe we should push for more free time to actually live. We have the technology to make it happen. We can make life less stressful, and replace hours of work with reading, writing, drawing, spending time with family, and evaluating our own thoughts and perspectives for some insight. Why not 30% of our week being work? Or even 20%? Maybe not in our own lifetimes, but maybe our children and our children's children could benefit. Our lives have intrinsic meaning and value, and I personally don't want to work for 40-50 years before waiting to finally die.

    If we examine history for critical and powerful minds, we see that the geniuses of various times almost always come from money. These people were educated, and they could afford to have many free hours.



    I weep for the many people in the world that are victims of poor circumstances or the actions of greedy and evil men. How many children with potentially genius minds have died from lack of food and water, or how many now live but without education, or perhaps their education system and society's work expectations fail them? How many old men have looked at their calloused hands and wondered how different things could have been if they just had better opportunities.

    Indeed, not only is society's crave for work detrimental, but so are the little chances and poor education we give to ourselves and future generations. Tossing as much information as possible at children is not beneficial. It commits them to repetitive work and they come to despise learning. We need to better how we teach and present information to our children. Learning needs to be decisive, efficient, and as enjoyable as possible. Classical math is not something that should be taught first then algebra later; syntax of values and numbers as expressions should be presented from the start. For many it just leads to unnecessary confusion. The same applies to physics: classical models of physics presented in earlier grades is just wrong compared to what you learn later. This isn't just lazy teaching, but it's also potentially counter-intuitive for some children.

    We need to teach children at their own pace, which is something that is finally possible with digital technology. We minimize necessary courses to essential subject, we teach them properly from the start, and after some point we allow them to expand into the subjects that interest them. We also remove most homework and keep things in class as much as possible. By doing these things, we've cut down on school hours, we achieve higher rewards for intellectual students, children with learning difficulties won't be forced to keep pace when it's clear they're simply incapable, then being punished for it. Children that do perform well may find themselves uninterested or frustrated in certain courses as they may already know the information or choose to move on. By delivering personal digital teachers for students we can dramatically increased the success rate in schools.

    With more available recreational time and better education we can shift society towards a smarter, healthier, and more free paradigm. Our lives are important. Let's make the most of it.


    I appreciate any comments from posters who have read and honestly considered what I've said. I've had these thoughts for a while now, and I've been meaning to post them somewhere. Let me know your responses and opinions, because that's the best way for us to grow and develop as individuals.

    Edit: Whoops, nearly forgot this.
    Last edited by Nerevar; 02-18-2013 at 00:01.
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  2. #2
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    i'd agree with this....though its something i've known for a while, and have gone about attempting to compensate for (unfortunately)

    by and large, growing up in fiji is care-free and easygoing, this is how i was brought up; time was a redundant measure. that being said, my high school curriculum provided the tools to better facilitate growing up. "time management" was a required module to pass high school and receive my diploma.
    of all my subjects in high school Economics was the one i chose to pursue. simply put, it's too easy for me. i could have chosen physics, or maths, art, but none allowed for the flexibility i was looking for. i can't speak for others because i only have my own perspective on life, but looking forward i didn't want to forego all the things i had grown up doing to chase the ideals of the masses. i was happy doing my own thing, and that is what i've attempted.

    but the teaching is one thing i've scorned for since year 6. why where people being berated for their inability to do something? more so, why where they there to hold me back? i couldn't agree more with what you've said. we should be taught proper from the get go. and learn at the level you are at. i think the stigma of age discrimination is what hold us back from implementing this

    whilst what you say is true im sad to say its something i've chosen to ignore, the energy required to bring about change is simply too great, im happy to let be.

    "entropy" i learned in year 8....the reason behind many of my own ideals
    Sig courtesy of the_jim


  3. #3
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    Is life not random
    Plato and Aristotle, a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael. Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by claud3 View Post
    Is life not random
    life is what you make it
    Sig courtesy of the_jim


  5. #5
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    Glad to know that there is worth in taking your educational and career path towards a balanced, minimal-stress, self-satisfying manner...rather than just chasing annual salaries and popular career choices. In spite of being content with my career path and doing well in it, sometimes I struggle with knowing I chose the road less-traveled for the sake of my own quality of life instead of go with another field for the dollar signs. It's nice to know that such a mindset does matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bio
    Yep, NGP will retail at $300. We all know it's going to happen.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bio View Post
    Glad to know that there is worth in taking your educational and career path towards a balanced, minimal-stress, self-satisfying manner...rather than just chasing annual salaries and popular career choices. In spite of being content with my career path and doing well in it, sometimes I struggle with knowing I chose the road less-traveled for the sake of my own quality of life instead of go with another field for the dollar signs. It's nice to know that such a mindset does matter.
    Money can't buy you happiness, but happiness can't buy you things, either.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chickenooble View Post
    Money can't buy you happiness, but happiness can't buy you things, either.

    Money is the path, not the objective. It is just a means to an end.

    With this means you can open yourself up to ways others cannot in order to achieve happiness. For instance, as Rapture notes, having more free time to perform hobbies and introspection.


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