Monthly Archives: October 2011

building a work ethic


In France castles (or chateaus) dot the countryside.  It sometimes feels like they’re breeding out there because there are so many of them of all shapes and sizes.  This summer, we took a trip to Guedelon a castle that is in the progress of being built.  Apparently, Guedelon started over a decade ago with the goal to build a castle from the ground up, using all of the antique tool and methods used to build all the rest of the castles around.  It was a fascinating to see the castle in progress and after a decade of work, the bulk of it is still not done (although they don’t have nearly as many people doing the work as they likely would have long ago).  While I was there I was wondering if they had a “hard labor” internship program so that modern kids could see what really hard work was like, as opposed to the really hard work that we make them do around the house like empty the trash and unload the dishwasher.  Life if tough in modern times, am I right?

On the topic of labor, we have this wall chart of jobs and weekly responsibilities that the kids do to earn spending money.  The chart is part of a larger kit that we bought in the US which teaches kids spending, saving and giving, as they do jobs around the house.  Our kids are at a great age to be helpful and they also have a grasp of money/spending, so we’ve been using this system pretty successfully for a few months now.  It’s not set up to provide an allowance (which may imply that the money comes on a weekly basis no matter what), but rather to define responsibilities and require that jobs be done before money is paid.  In this situation: no work = no money.

The other night we had a party at our house and I found the wall chart to be the center of all conversation. Every time I walked by, another parent was standing there looking at the chart and talking about how to get their kids to work around the house.  I think it was decided at the party that we are very American with our democratic wall chart and view of labor and capitalism.  While this may be true, they all wanted to know where they could get a wall chart for themselves.

ps – The are currently no jobs listed on the wall chart that involve slogging rocks up an incline.