• Karen

Teaching, Ethics, and Quiet Quitting

The more the world of work changes, the more it stays the same. Remember clashes over “work-life balance,” “setting healthy boundaries” and “knowing when to say no?” Meet the latest version of the eternal debate: Quiet Quitting.

Unless you’ve been on a personal news and social media blackout, you’ve probably heard the term quiet quitting. Just in case this latest buzz word has passed you by, here’s a short review of what it is and is not.

Quiet quitters are NOT leaving their jobs. They are not presenting bosses with angry “I quit!” messages or refusing to work. What they ARE doing is performing the duties of their stated positions, and nothing else. No giving 110%, no hustle till you drop, no unpaid hours that bleed into family time. Oh, and corporate America is not happy about this. (Then again, corporate America wasn’t happy about the previous movements for work-life balance and healthy boundaries either.)

I have really mixed feelings about this issue (I guess I always have) and its latest incarnation, fueled primarily by Tik Tok. If you have ever worked in education you know that going above and beyond, working hours you aren’t paid for, and buying materials with your own money is often the norm. It happens so much that people don’t even discuss it until they reach the melt-down point. Teaching isn’t the only job like this, as there are many careers that are mission or calling driven where the work and the paycheck don’t match. Professionals in these fields often accept that this is the reality of their choice to be in a helping profession.

Here’s the ethical question I’m pondering these days: Should I be teaching college students and young professionals to go the extra mile or to protect their personal time? Some combination? Will standing up for themselves mean they lose out on jobs and promotions? Should I hint to them that in order to gain modern success they are doomed to working hours without pay as part of the bargain? Introducing this concept is tricky.

This fall, I’ve got a new group of young adult learners in another job seekers style class. It’s a subject I’ve taught numerous times before, and I love seeing people move from dreams to reality in their careers. BUT should I be tempering my lessons with some cautions? Should I be adding caveats to the “rah rah” give it your all and then some materials that dominate this field of instruction?

Maybe one of my students will change the system, but they can’t do that until they land that first job. Early in our professional lives most of us aren’t ready to debate authority figures on equitable pay and just working conditions. We just want a job that pays the bills and hopefully opens doors. The new and vibrant conversation about quiet quitting makes me wonder, how do I prepare this next batch of job seekers to succeed without setting them up to be exploited?

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