Monthly Archives: March 2010

Working: Writing Prompt (due Friday, 4/2)

After reading the four interviews about the auto industry, please answer the following:

The Auto Industry

How do these four workers feel about their jobs and the kind of work they do? What feelings do they have about their industry, and their part in it?
(3-4 ¶)

Note: When people refer to the UAW, that’s the United Auto Workers, the union that represented employees of the “big three” auto manufacturers (Ford, GM, Chrysler)


The U.S. Auto Industry

This week, we’ll be reading related pieces from Terkel’s Working and a piece from a “graphic adaptation” of the book as well. These will all have to do with aspects of the US automotive industry.

Here are a few links aimed at giving you a little background on the history and current state of the automotive industry in the United States.

Here’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to the subject. Skim it.

Here’s an MSNBC story from 2006. Read it.

Here’s a Wall Street Journal editorial from 2008. Read it.

Ask yourself: What have been the important historical trends and debates within the automotive industry in the last half-century or so?

Friday, 3/19

Today we took a quiz over Preface I and Preface III, as promised.

We discussed unions in America during the 20th Century a bit, and talked about how we can tell how Studs Terkel feels about different kinds of work. We then listened to a radio essay from This American Life, where host Ira Glass joins a trio of New York City sanitation workers on their route. [If you weren’t in class, click the link, click on “Stream Episode.” The essay we listened to is from around the 4 minute mark to around the 17 or 18 minute mark.]

Wednesday and Thursday

On Wednesday, March 17, we watched most of an episode of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs, as we continue on in the “blue collar” section of our Working unit. Don’t forget: the readings for Friday are Preface I and Preface III of Terkel’s book.

On Thursday, March 18, we will be in the cave, working on the blogs. Remember that if you’re confused about what you’re supposed to write on the blogs, there are several options for any given post:

  • talk about how you got interested in the job;
  • talk about what sort of education you need for the job, and how you’re planning to get that education (where are you going to go, what are you going to major in, what do you know about the sorts of classes that will be expected, etc.);
  • talk about ideas from the book you chose;
  • talk about something connected with your career that’s in the news;
  • talk about something connected with your career that’s showing up in pop culture (on TV, in movies, etc.);
  • find something on a website dedicated to a subject related to your career (e.g., if you’re interested in becoming a psychologist, bookmark Psychology Today magazine’s website, visit it often, and find interesting things to discuss).

And don’t forget to remind yourself of the requirements for word count and number of posts. Those will be found on

Reading Assignments

On Monday, I handed out the Introduction to Working, by Studs Terkel. Selected paragraphs from that reader were assigned for Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I handed out Preface I and III, which are due Friday.

Expect quizzes on the readings, so you aren’t rudely awakened by one.

Link for Perspectives Blogs

I’ve created a separate blog that will connect all of your Working blogs. I’ve creatively titled it “Perspectives Blogs,” and it can be found at Next week, I’ll ask for the title and URL of your blog, so try to come up with something you’re willing to stick with.

If you were gone Monday…

Here is the powerpoint presentation that I used to introduce the unit.

The homework assignment was to write 2-3 paragraphs addressing the following sorts of questions:

  • What kind of career do you think you want to go into?
  • If you know already, how did you get interested in that career? What do you already know about it? What are you doing to prepare yourself, if anything? What do your parents think about your plans? What concerns do you have about it?
  • If you don’t already know, how are you thinking about this now? What options are you considering? What kind of pressure are you under to decide on something?