Teaching the Habits of “Good Work”

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Today, we’re delighted to share a blog post from our friends at The Good Project. The Good Project has released a new online module to help educators discuss ethical dilemmas and value-based decisions with teens.

In an increasingly complex and media saturated world, stories about people cutting corners, lying, or negatively affecting others appear ubiquitous in our news and culture. Financial manipulations, corporate malfeasance, and the present cultural reckoning with sexual harassment, for example, all demonstrate that doing “good” may not be as common as some of us would like to think.

What is “good work”? How can young people be encouraged to do “good work” now and in the future?

The Good Project, a group based at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has investigated these questions for over twenty years. In a study involving over 1200 professionals from different sectors, researchers discovered that the term “good work” can be defined as satisfying three elements:

  1. Excellence, or technical proficiency;
  2. Engagement, or a feeling of enjoyment or satisfaction; and
  3. Ethics, perhaps most elusive, a developed sense of right, wrong, and the effects of one’s actions on others.

The Good Project’s goal has been to share research-based frameworks and tools that aid people in becoming good workers, good citizens, and good people.

Now, for the first time, a free online unit is available to help adolescents consider dilemmas of the sort that arise in the workplace and how personal values influence our responses to tricky dilemmas, when doing “good work” is especially important.

The module, developed for a middle or high school audience, consists of two animated videos about individuals who face a difficult choice, as well as reflection activities and questions that connect personal values with ethical decision making. Students will learn to think deeply about their own values and the need to pause, reflect, and consult others at times of uncertainty.

Teachers and practitioners who would like a more formal explanation of these theories, or additional materials, can consult the GoodWork Toolkit, an open-source curriculum with further narratives and activities.

The animation and interface was created in partnership with FableVision, a digital design studio based in Boston.

Have thoughts or suggestions? Fill out a survey by clicking the link on the unit’s home screen. Your submission will be shared with The Good Project team to determine whether they will produce additional modules in the future and, if so, which subjects and themes are of greatest value.

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