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Chipping off the Old Block

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

Family Occupation Tree
Remind students that in Segment 4 Will Durst and his father share their histories of multiple jobs. Invite students to think about their own family's work history by asking these questions: Is there a tradition in your family of doing certain kinds of work? What kind of work ethic do the members of your family have? What attitudes toward work have been passed from generation to generation? Illuminate these family work traditions by creating a family occupation tree.

• Work with other family members to draw a family tree that includes grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, and any other relatives or in-laws to whom you feel connected.

• Below each person's name, list the jobs he or she held, or the kinds of work he or she did. Take notice of what each person's perspective on work is.

When you've completed the tree, analyze the job information it contains. How many family members have worked in similar occupations? Do you notice any family trends in the way people view their jobs? Which relatives were particularly helpful or inspiring to other family members on career matters? Do you think the youngest generation will continue family traditions, or establish new patterns? Write notes on what you conclude. Then, at the next big family gathering, unveil the family occupation tree and offer your analysis.

Minorities Welcome?
As recently as a generation ago, women and minorities were effectively prevented from working in many occupations in the United States. Today there still are barriers, but mentors such as Dennis Dowdell, Jr., and Dennis Holloway (seen in Segments 5 and 6) are sharing their skills and knowledge with women and minority group members, and enabling them to succeed in formerly restricted occupations. Do research to find out about workplace prejudice then and now. Some steps:

• Ask older members of your community to share personal knowledge of workplace barriers in the past that prevented women and minorities from working in particular occupations, and how things have changed.

• Use the library or the Internet to read articles about this subject. Some sites with useful links are the National Women's History Project (http://www.nwhp.org/links.html) and the NAACP (http://www.naacp.org/links/).

• Contact local chapters of labor unions and of organizations concerned with the rights of minorities or women.

• Livelyhood's "Learn about Work: A Starting Point for Online Research" section lists and describes organizations like the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and US Equal Opportunity Commission Web sites that can give you background, ideas and links.

• The Livelyhood "Chipping Off the Old Block" Web site also has more on Dennis Dowdell and Dawn White's stories. The Dowdell feature on mentoring has a behind-the-scenes interview with Dowdell telling of his father's involvement with the civil rights movement, a feature on his mentee Wayne Washington's nightlife as a hip hop poetry host, a guide to mentoring from the U.S. Department of Labor, and a comprehensive lists of links that can help you find a mentor! The Dawn White feature on apprenticeship shows pictures and interviews from other apprentices working on the Empire State Building and has comprehensive lists of resources that locate either Building and Construction Trades Apprenticeship programs, Job Training sites for Women or General Job Training Resources online.

Create a presentation telling about what you learn. You might share this information as part of a school program focusing on careers, diversity, or human rights.

Welfare to Work
Recent reforms in the welfare system have focused on moving welfare recipients into the workforce. One of the first and best known of these programs is Wisconsin's Welfare-to-Work Program, popularly known as the W-2 initiative. You can do some background research to find out what the elements of the W-2 program are, and to find out how well it's working. Then you can find out what programs are like in your state.

• Use the Internet, and go to sites like Wisconsin's Welfare to Work site (http://www.dwd.state.wi.us/wtw) or visit a library and use the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature to find articles about the development of the program.

• Find out what your state is doing to help people make the transition from welfare to work. Visit a library, or use Internet sites like the Department of Labor's Welfare to Work Department site (http://www.doleta.gov/).

Then work with a partner to create your own proposal for a successful welfare-to-work program. You will need to address such issues as childcare, job training, and transportation in addition to employment opportunities. Illustrate how your program would work by describing how a family would become involved.


In the last segment of "Chipping Off the Old Block" (Segment 7) we see two volunteers in Newport, KY who find their vocation not so much in their job, but in volunteer work. The "Chipping Off the Old Block" Web site features interviews with Betty and Louise, as well as a listing of both national volunteer resources that can connect classes with volunteer information in a variety of areas, and local food banks across the country. These listings, accessed by clicking on the "Volunteering" menu box. may be used for an organized class outing, discussion, or as a hand-out for interested students/teachers.