Getting Boys To
Enjoy Work

Dateline: 7 January 2015

I was working in my shop today, listening to an internet program about teaching boys how to work, and I think it was such an exceptionally good program that I am interrupting my regularly scheduled blog to tell you about it. 

The program is How To Get Boys To Enjoy Work. It is an interview with Bob Schultz, author of Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men.

Early in the show, the host, Kevin Swanson, makes this great statement: "[Public] schools have nothing to do with real life." When you hear that in the context of the conversation, it makes a lot of sense.

And everything Bob Schultz has to say is just pure, down-to-earth wisdom. He says it's hard these days to get a young boy to grow up into a man that enjoys the challenges that go with manhood. "But when you become a man in your skills and your thinking, it's a tremendous joy to be what you were created to be."

Mr. Schultz works in the building trades and he tells the story of a man who hired him to build a house. But he didn't just want a house, he wanted Bob to teach his three boys (ages 8, 11, and 14) how to work and build the house. Wow, that was one smart father. 

It took months to build the house. The boys worked from foundation to finish, and it wasn't easy.

That sort of thing is better education than anything you'll get in the government schools.

I've written before of my own work experiences (see "My Story" At This Link) and I can relate to the importance of boys working with men, doing man's work. It is the time-honored (and Biblical) way that boys learned not only how to work, but to find satisfaction in their work. Or, as Bob Schultz says, to find joy in doing what they were created to do.

Popular culture does not give young boys manly role models. It gives them vain like-men, selfish like-men, confused like-men, perverted like-men, foolish like-men, buffoonish like-men, brutish like-men, or virtual superhero like-men as role models. Some of these role models are sports-men. I'm not impressed.

Young boys need down-to-earth, truly manly role models that, among other things, work hard at creative and productive work, and enjoy their work.

Listen to How To Get Boys To Enjoy Work and see if it resonates with you like it did with me.


PotterVilla said...

Our family has enjoyed all four of Bob Schultz's books. They contain such practical advice. Bob passed away unexpectedly on June 13, 2008 at a speaking engagement.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks for the update on Bob Schultz. I knew the Generations interview was a replay. I have two of his books but the interview was the first I've heard him speak. He left a wonderful legacy. Having worked most of my working life in the building trades, I can relate to many of his stories.

Brenda said...

I just sent this to my daughter, who (like you and like me) has 3 sons. They are just starting an old house renovation and the boys are Very Excited. My children also had the benefit (?) of living and working on an old house.
Probably the funniest sight I've seen lately is the 4 year old, Ben, showing my husband just how the outlets and switches ought to be. My husband was quite careful to tack up the templates wherever Ben had previously designated, though the final placement might be a little less crowded. They enjoy their tools and have had regular opportunity to use them. Your recent postings about your small grandson have touched my heart, and inspired prayer. From a fellow NYer (and I think my husband might have been an Alfred classmate - funny) -

Herrick Kimball said...

Hello Brenda,

Thank you for the comment, and the prayers.

You have me thinking hard about my one year at Alfred (Wellsville). It was 1978-79. Your husband probably has a better memory than me, as I can only recall a few classmates in the building trades program by name: Brian O. (who I exchange Christmas cards with every year), Gerry R., Carson L., Mark L., Jim S.

More names may come to me in time. Like Eric ? He was learning to play bagpipes and wanted to make his own, which I thought was pretty remarkable. One day he informed me that the shirt I was wearing was a Stewart Tartan, which I did not know.

And the teachers: Mr. Gamo, Mr. Burdock, Mr. Evans. The masonry teacher's name slips my mind.

In was a good and worthwhile year in that I learned a lot, but I didn't go back the second year to finish and graduate. My money ran out (I was paying the tuition myself and didn't want to go into debt.) I figured I had learned enough to get a job and work in the trades, and that is how it played out. Getting a degree was never important to me.

Or maybe your husband remembers me from the main campus, which would be even more remarkable since I spent so much time in the library, being the introvert that I am (I loved that library, and I used to visit the Herrick Library at Alfred University, on the other side of town).

I did, however, get involved in a Bible Study at the main campus and have good memories of that fellowship.

My best wishes to your husband. I'm glad to know he married a praying woman. :-)

SharonR said...

I've read the book you wrote about. However, I have only daughters, no sons (sigh). God knows best. Husband, a great worker himself, is away from home most of the time, and I just don't like the idea of raising a boy with that kind of situation. Yet, I bought this book, thinking to put it in our church library for the parents of boys there who might enjoy it. It's a great book, teaching great things. I'm heartbroken to learn that the author has died. I'm so sorry to learn this.

Brenda said...

Hi, I'm afraid I used the term classmate rather loosely :( Nate, my husband, graduated from high school in Fillmore in 1977. Then I think he was at Houghton for about a year, and now that I am thinking about it I think there were interruptions (this was before I was on the scene). I think he was 79/80, then 80/81, and on the main campus. He should have been in building trades as he was a carpenter for many years and lately has been teaching carpentry type things in a NYS prison. (didn't you work in a prison, or am I thinking of someone else perhaps?) He commuted the first year and lived on campus the second year. His parents paid, which was nice. (I did go in debt for a teaching degree from Houghton. Lots of debt.) He fought cancer that second year and we have a few miracles there, namely our birth children. Then he was a mechanic and I taught on the Navajo Reservation, then the carpentry started when we returned to Allegany County. We had 3 kids, and were adopting one from foster care when he got Non-Hodgekins lymphoma. More miracles. He did the Pace program with Houghton (adults at night for a BA) and started getting his vocational teaching credential (the degree was important only because it led to the job he wanted. That is an interesting idea to float in an academic community inside a rural county). In the mean time we had 50 foster kids and adopted one more. We bought land and gradually have been learning how to be farmers (which is a laugh a minute). We have sheep and chickens and a pet turkey (until I find a big enough pot) "downtown" with us, and cattle and sheep and ducks and a couple roosters up at the farm.
To bring it back to some things you've been talking about, I am so proud of my eldest daughter and her homeschooling her 4-6-8 year old boys. Son #1 is a carpenter recently turned nurse. Son #2 is a sailor and expectant dad. Those 3 all married young and had no school debt. They married debt but they each married well so I decided not to hold it against them :) Son #3, age 24, is home with me. I gave up my much loved church nursery school job this year as he can't be alone. That is another story. Youngest daughter is at a community college accruing debt. I have some worries there, also another story.
Anyway, I am so appreciative of your writings. Greetings to Marlene. She is my type of gal, I just know. So happy about these precious days with your little guy.
Don't know if you wonder about the folks that follow you, but now you know way too much about one!

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Brenda,

Okay. Well....

I went to a concert at Houghton College around 1979/80.

Close enough. :-)

I do wonder about the folks who read this blog, so it's nice of you to share a little about yourself.

As Marlene often says to me, "Everyone has a story." Meaning that everyone has their struggles and disappointments in life, and often we never know.

Best wishes with your farming adventure.

Unknown said...

I also have enjoyed Bob Schultz's books, and wish I had found them when my boys were young.
"Everyday Battles" taught me a lot. I think about him when I am offended by someone else's behavior. He helped me consider how other people's rudeness is a good time to consider how I have been similarly rude to others.
A fascinating fact about Bob that surprised me is that he had no sons...

Herrick Kimball said...


I only have sons, no daughters (sigh).


Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Jonathan,

I may have to read that book.

Yes, he mentions in the interview that he has only daughters. But, as he says regarding boys, he was once one himself.

And he has had opportunity to work with boys. It is often the case, as I'm sure you know, that a godly man can be a tremendous role model and mentor to a boy that is not his own. This kind of man can reinforce the good values taught by a father and mother, or, in some cases, provide a good example to a boy who has not had the benefit of good parental examples.

This is something I think about and wonder if I should be doing something like this since my sons are now grown up and out of the house.

Thanks for the comment.

Brenda said...

Keith Green? That's the only concert I really remember though there were some good ones. With his family, he stayed at the house where I lived (with a local family). He was really sick that night. I think there were supposed to be 2 concerts and he did it one. The fire marshals were not pleased. We went up to the "new" ropes course and I paired with his foster daughter because we were a similar weight. And, that's the only time I had a brush with fame, even though I was born in Culver City (movie center, with Hollywood).
I am really thankful for the farm and our progress there. The rest of my family moved back to CA (after 20 years in CT) and they live a different kind of life. Warmer, for one (ha). My parents are and my husband's parents were Godly people and truly the gift of knowing and loving and serving Him is the gift that keeps on giving. Maybe God does have some mentoring in your future, in addition to your grandson.
Good night.

Herrick Kimball said...

Keith Green. Last Days Ministries. I got their newsletter back then. But that was not the concert I went to. it was a 2nd Chapter of Acts concert. Maybe I have the wrong year. But I'm sure it must have been the right decade.