Lesson 2 — Valuing Work in the World

How are you thinking about your professional career services practice after the Lesson 1 session? Has anything shifted for you? Are you more aware of the processes by which you form thoughts, beliefs, and opinions? Are there aspects of your work life that you must “claim?”

Let’s begin Lesson 2 with a second graduation speech, one of my all-time favorites. This one is a video created using David Foster Wallace’s famous speech This is Water which has been presented in a short movie format I think you will enjoy. Watch the video below.


Hopefully that got your brain juices flowing! The call to action from Mr. Wallace echoes the call to action I hope you take from this class! I want you to choose; to choose to notice and think differently about your work as a career services professional. During lesson 1 we revealed the way that your brain is wired with a default process that causes you to miss things and create thoughts and beliefs that are not accurate and thus not helpful.

For this Lesson 2 session, I want to expand your thinking to the way we value work in our social systems. This is important because the value we implicitly or unconsciously assign to work is related to the value we assigned to the worker who does that work! This valuing structure within the world-of-work is essential to understanding and addressing issue of social justice through professional career services practice.

Have a look at a redux of an old blog post I recently wrote here:   
In your journal (remember from Lesson 1 when I asked you to keep a journal… you thought I would forget didn’t you?) about a time that you demonstrated valuing for someone who worked in a job that fell on the bottom of the work valuing hierarchy we are describing.

Take a moment to write in your journal.


Now, let’s explore some information that signifies the way we have socially constructed the way work is valued in society. Read this USA Today article from 2014 identifies the emerging then and continuing today trend of  growth and opportunity in the Blue Collar sector at     
Despite this continuing trend and alternative messages beginning to be magnified in media, there remains a distinct bias towards four-year universities and white-collar jobs in society.

White-collar bias extends beyond traditional blue-collar jobs. This bias is seen in our research (as identified in Torlina’s 2011 book Working Class: Challenging Myths about Blue Collar Labor), educational systems View Chronicle of Higher Education 2017 video  and dominant media narratives to read McGarvey’s 2016 article on HuffPost addresses this topic.   
If we can see that this system of valuing work and resulting bias against certain types of work and workers, consciousness of this alone will shift your perspective and career services practice. Let’s dig a little deeper in this next video presentation. Watch the video below. 


Today we began with your reflection on broader issues of the system of work and how we socially construct the value of that system. We began to transition from personal reflection to more concrete content with some aspects of the Psychology of Working model/theory. In Lesson 3 we will tie this directly into social justice.

All the while remember this is water, this is water…

Complete items 4-6 on your worksheet before going on to Lesson 3. Don’t forget to mark this lesson COMPLETE.