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Carpool to Nirvana

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Duplicate and distribute these activities. Students may work independently or cooperatively.

Just a Dream?
In segment 7 of "Carpool to Nirvana," Will Durst discovers that the job he’d always dreamed of having–T.V. critic–isn’t as easy or as fun as he’d imagined it to be. In segment 8, in contrast, Meg Koc finds that a workplace characterized as ideal in a magazine article turns out to be every bit as good as described.

Discuss with your classmates how people can close the gap between dreams and reality in their thoughts toward jobs and workplaces. Answer these questions:

• What might cause a person to feel disappointed after he or she lands a dream job?

• How can people get a realistic picture of a job or a workplace?

Now try closing the gap between dreams and reality for a job you think might be ideal for you.

• At the top of a sheet of paper, write your ideal job, or an ideal company to work for.

• Fold the sheet of paper in half.
Write at the top of the left side: Positive Points of my ideal job or "PRO"
Write at the top of the other side: Negative Points of my ideal job or "CON"

• Fill in the left-hand column with your hopes, and the right-hand column with what you expect might be the "downside" of this job.

• Now do research to gather facts. You might interview a worker in that job or company, talk with a company representative, visit the company’s web site, talk to a union representative, or search for information about the job or company on the Internet. Online Job Resources are available.

Write what you learn in the right-hand column.

After you finish, work with classmates to make an informational display of PRO/CON charts.

Share Views
When you picture an ideal workplace, what do you see? Here’s your chance to articulate your vision–and find out how it matches up with those of others.

• List five to ten characteristics your ideal workplace would have.

• Next, develop a survey to find out what others think are ideal workplace characteristics. (For a simple inspiration, you might choose to check out Livelyhood's humorous LivelyPoll! Ideal Workplace survey.) You may want to ask respondents for information on their gender, approximate age, and type of work (if any) that they do now, so you can break out results by those criteria.

• Distribute the survey to a variety of people. Then collect the completed surveys.

• Compile and analyze the responses. Compare the characteristics most often mentioned as ideal to yours. Identify similarities and differences.

You might analyze what you learn about people’s workplace preferences, write a report that presents your findings, and then share that information with local employers, newspapers, or guidance counselors.

Debate Commute Solutions
How tough is the commute in your area now? How much tougher will it be when you’re ready to join it (or when you make your next job move)? Maybe it’s time to consider some solutions.

• Work with a small group to brainstorm possible solutions. These might include encouraging telecommuting, creating safer bike routes, increasing government support of public transportation, or building more freeways. (You may want to re-view segment 5, "The Commute," or the Web site commute summary before you begin.)

• Write each solution on a slip of paper and place the papers in a hat.

• Choose a partner; draw a solution slip from the hat.

• Prepare a five-minute argument in favor of your solution. The Livelyhood Web site

offers help in finding information on transportation and commute solutions on the Internet.

• Take turns presenting solutions.

• Afterward, vote on which solution seems most appropriate for your area.

You might honor the winning pair by having them write a letter to the editor on behalf of the class arguing for the implementation of their commute solution.