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Working Family Values

Viewing GuideCareers and Vocational Education ActivitiesHealth Activities
Mathematics ActivitiesResource LinksClassroom Resources


Use these tips to prepare your students to view the program thoughtfully:

1. Read the summary of the show to familiarize yourself with its contents.

2. Ask these questions to begin a discussion about balancing work and family:

• What are some characteristics of good family life?
• What does it mean to balance a career and family life?
• What factors can make this balance difficult to achieve?

3. Inform students that as they view the program, they will see some solutions to balancing work and family life. You might suggest to students that they keep these questions in mind as they view the episode:

• How have changes in traditional gender roles made work and family issues more complex?
• How can employers be sensitive to their employees’ family needs or obligations?
• How might having the support of family members, workers or neighbors make balancing priorities easier?

While Viewing

"Working Family Values" presents the following segments:

00:00–[04:26] Introduction

[01:47–02:23 credits]

Will Durst takes a glance back at his unconventional childhood as he prepares to explore the ways in which Americans find their own unique balances between work and family.

Segment 1

Denver, CO – Dave Maxson, founder of Davey Bear Day Care, decided to go into the childcare business partly so he could spend time with his son and daughter. His lively home daycare environment, full of energetic toddlers, proves just how exhausting and demanding caring for children can be.

Segment 2

Los Angeles, CA – Viewers learn how Rosa and Arturo Rivera manage to raise a family and send their kids to private school on an annual combined income of $35,000 by working full-time jobs and operating a family business as well.

Segment 3

New York, NY – Will takes a lunch break at P.S. 169, because "school is the first place we get an inkling of what work will be like." Kids share stories about the way their parents’ feelings about work show up at home.

Segment 4

Memphis, TN – First Tennessee Bank used to fire employees automatically after seven absences, no matter what caused the absences. Now the bank’s new Family Matters program has transformed the work environment by taking family issues seriously. Employees at all levels benefit: Tina Williford can now set flexible schedules to fit her family’s needs, and Kathy Lewis is able to bring her children to work at the end of the school day. Not only does the new plan help retain valuable employees, it has also boosted the company’s productivity.

Segment 5

Danville, CA – Viewers meet the Marchianos, a couple struggling with a difficult and increasingly common dilemma: Should the wife go back to work full-time after her maternity leave is over, or will her company allow her to telecommute so she has more time with her new baby?

Segment 6

Seattle, WA – Will introduces viewers to an entrepreneurial mother-daughter team with a business designed to revive the tradition of family mealtime. Lisa Wallace and Judy Schwan cook and package a month’s worth of delicious meals for clients, which is certainly "one recipe for letting families spend time together."

Segment 7

Brooklyn, NY – Seniors in Brooklyn have the opportunity to participate in a program called Elderplan. This HMO-based program signs seniors up to do member-to-member volunteering, a service that provides the elderly with needed assistance, companionship, and a valuable sense of community.

[52:56]–[55:05] Conclusion

Pause once or twice while viewing to have students reflect on what they’ve seen. Ask:

• What kinds of decisions have people made about work and family so far?
• Do people seem happy with their decisions? Why?
• Have some decisions seemed more difficult than others? Why?

Ask students whether they are confused about anything they’ve seen. Offer them the opportunity to visit the Livelyhood Web site and skim the summary of "Working Family Values" after watching the program.

Also encourage students to list terms or concepts they are unfamiliar with, and look them up in the humorous "Working Family Values Glossary." (http://www.pbs.org/livelyhood/workingfamily/familygloss.html)

After Viewing

A variety of resources are available for linking the content of the show to particular curriculum areas, and helping students apply the content to real-world situations relevant to their own lives.

1. Follow-up Questions. These encourage students to analyze and think critically about the situation and issues presented in the show.

You might begin by having students answer the questions offered as examples:

• How have changes in traditional gender roles made work and family issues more complex?
• How can employers be sensitive to their employees’ family needs or obligations?
• How might having the support of family members, workers, or neighbors make balancing priorities easier?

Continue by asking questions that will lead students to relate the content of the program to their own lives:

• How does your family balance time spent at work and time spent with each other?
• Who do you know that has had to make difficult decisions about how they spend their time? What did they decide? How has it worked out?
• Are there any lessons to be learned from these stories? If so, what are they?

To give students opportunities to explore these issues actively and creatively, assign one or more of the cross-curricular activities that follow.

2. Cross-Curricular Activities. These offer a variety of projects for individual students or small groups that extend concepts presented in "Working Family Values." Some of these activities utilize other features of the Livelyhood Web site, such as the Lively Pool and the Posting Areas. All activities are appropriate for students in grades 9–12. Some are suitable for younger students as well; others are appropriate for adult students.