Work is Good. In the beginning, God made man. He put him in the Garden of Eden and gave him work to do. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)
Man was given work BEFORE sin entered the world. Man was created to find purpose through work. Work is not a result of sin, work is good and perfect.
I believe sin distorted the concept of work. One of God’s punishments for Adam’s disobedience was that there would now be toil in the work. The work would now be hard. And somehow man interpreted it as work itself is part of the punishment for evil.
God is glorified when we work – because that is what He designed us to do.
The Bible tells us to work, to work with a good attitude, and to work for the Lord and not for man.
“Whatever your hands find to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:4)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for man.” (Colossians 3:23)
If we were designed to work – shouldn’t we teach our children to do so?
Waldorf is a big proponent of “purposeful work” – especially for early education, but I believe it should run throughout.
What is purposeful work and how is it accomplished?
The idea is that teachers, in homeschoolers case parents, keep busy working, so the children can imitate and work along side. When indoors, parents can cook, wash dishes, dust, sweep, do laundry, mend clothes, etc. Outdoors, parents can weed, rack, garden. According to Rudolph Steiner simply watching adults work is bendficial to a child’s development. “If before the seventh year children see only foolish actions in their surroundings, the brain will assume the forms that adapt it to foolishness in later life.” (“The Role of Purposeful Work in a Waldorf Kindergarten” http://www.waldorflibrary.org/articles/736-the-role-of-purposeful-work-in-a-waldorf-kindergarten)
As I researched, I read a wide array of ways teachers accomplish purposeful work. I have to admit I found some to be outright funny. Carving a spoon, to me is not purposeful work – washing, drying and putting a store bought one in the drawer is. Carving a spoon is at best handwork, a craft project – but purposeful work it is not. I have also read that “purposeful work” is living like it was 1950 – washing clothes and dishes by hand, etc. But for those of us living in the 21st Century – it is not overly purposeful, unless your purpose is to live off the grid – in which case you are probably not reading this blog.
To me, purposeful work is doing the things that need to be done to live NOW – cooking, cleaning, laundry, car repair, yard work, caring for animals. Seriously – I have enough to do without creating more work for myself. I personally have no objection to a washer and dryer and gasp – a dishwasher.
Children develop in multiple ways when they engage in purposeful work – physical, mental, character, social and spiritual.
Physical – Sweeping, racking, pulling weed all take muscles. What you can’t see is many of the of these movements also develop right left brain connection through cross-over movement.
Mental – Kids can learn problem solving through figuring out which is the flower and which is the weed. They also learn pay attention to detail as they wash a dish and examine it to see whether there is still food stuck on it.
Character – – “Research indicates that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delayed gratification.(http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/responsibility-and-chores/part-i-benefits-of-chores/#benefits)
Social – When kids work along side their parents and siblings they see themselves as being an intricate part of the family unit and to society. They can be proud of being a contributing member of a group.
Spiritually – If we teach our kids to “work as unto the Lord” they are connecting to their Creator as He designed them to be.
Work is good. Work is good for kids.
Have have you incorporated purposeful work into your daily rhythm?