Because we have different funds of knowledge based on our age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, education, experiences, etc., we often ascribe to others the solutions to a situation that would work for us. This often does not play out very well for us or for those we are trying to “help” because our funds of knowledge are different. Our assets, strengths, and experiences may be very different. What works for me, then, would not work for the other person. What works for her will not work for me.

For example, our work ethic grew out of our own personal history. Lee Schore from Center for Working Life in Oakland, California, developed questions that I adapted.

What work did your grandparents and parents do? Was there a work difference between the two generations? Did their work affect your own development?

What were the stated and unstated assumptions about work in your family?  Did your family talk about work? Did you understand what kind(s) of work your parent(s) did? How did this affect your own work development?

What kinds of work did the parents of your friends do? What kinds of work did members of your extended family do?  Did you experience pride or shame when comparing the different jobs that people you knew had. How did this affect your work development?   

How did your parents’ jobs affect the structure of your family? If things had been different, would your childhood have been affected? How did this affect your work development?

What is your own work history? What jobs did you like? What jobs did you hate? Why?

What are your attitudes about work? If you had an absolute choice, not related to earning money, what you most want to do? When you think of “worker,” what is your image?  

Before we resort to the comment, “If they’d just get a job, everything would be okay,” we might want to think about how our own ideas about work came about.                                                    

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