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Cheaper By The Dozen Essay, Research Paper

? Cheaper by the Dozen?, based on a real-life story of the Gilbreth family, is a fantastic book. This hilarious comedy about a family with a dozen children kept me in stitches until the end! This family, run like a well oiled machine, took me on Sunday rides through the country, battles in the family court, summers at the sea, Father?s theories on motion study, and the economic removal of the whole families tonsils. I loved it! I find it truly amazing. Not only did the family boast twelve children, but they all learned to speak foreign languages, touch typing, mental arithmetic, and even Morse Code- all because their father worked out dozens of ingenious ways to motivate them- although often it was quite reluctantly on their part.

I had many laugh out loud moments, and at times would have enjoyed being a part of this large and loving family, or perhaps raising one of my own in the same manner?imagine that! It probably could never happen. I can?t imagine living with twelve brothers and sisters and getting along! Actually, I would not call it getting along; I would call it survival, by jimgo!

The Gilbreth family of twelve red-haired, freckle-faced children parented by efficiency experts and pioneers in the field of motion study, Lillian and Frank, were a bit eccentric and extremely funny. I can still remember one of the lines a child blurted out at the dinner table ?Please, we are NOT in the mood for an organ recital.? This was the standard reprimand for belching in the family and never intended for public airing. I also enjoyed the part when one of the children said to a dinner guest, ?Is this of general interest?? Although these twelve children were highly disciplined by their father, (mother, for the most part, would just agree with father) in a couple instances they were

able to catch father off guard, like when the children would continually ask him ?Father can you touch type?? ?No,? he would reply, ?but I can teach it!?

Nothing was considered more of a sin than wasting valuable time, that is why the father, Frank timed himself trying to go as fast as he possible can with almost everything. Every movement of everyday must be functional. He timed himself buttoning his shirt to see which way was faster, top-bottom, or bottom-top. He timed himself shaving to see which way took longer, using to brushes to apply the shaving cream, or one. He found that two were faster. He also experimented which way was faster, using two razors or one. He found that one was faster, because with two he cut himself so many times it took him twice as much time to cover up the cuts. As father once said: ?There is one right way to do everything, and that right way is the best way. That is true whether it is making an automobile, eating an apple, or raising a family!? This type of motion study and time management could be very helpful in today?s economy, especially on a smaller scale. I can think of a few instances in my own work place where a small amount of time wasted could be avoided. Although, I must say, in my office we are pretty good about not wasting movements or time, but if by some chance any of us slip in the slightest way, it is brought to our attention. For instance, while the sterilizing unit (autoclave) is filling it?s chamber with water (this sometimes takes a few minutes, and we have to wait for the water to reach a certain level before we shut the door) instead of just watching it, we can save time by putting away the clean instruments in the cabinet above. There are a few other examples including the way we pull patient charts out of the filing cabinet and the way we re-file them in order to save as much time and movement as possible.

This book took place right after the industrial revolution. I am sure that motion study was and still is widely used in American industry to eliminate unnecessary effort. Motion study analyzes every detail in the operation to perform a particular task and determines the method, which uses the least amount of energy. This would improve a job task, and result in increased productivity. In the beginning of the book, Frank quit school after his father?s passing and became a bricklayer. Like any other task, the most efficient way of brick laying was sought out. The method for centuries was for the bricklayer to raise his body, the mortar, and the bricks from the ground to the top of the building. I can imagine that this type of work used a large amount of unnecessary energy. Sure, he was the new guy on the block, but he knew the fastest way to lay the bricks. Unfortunately, his boss just did not want to hear it.

One of the most effective ways to reduce fatigue is to improve the work environment of an employee. The employer needs to ensure a worker has enough time to rest and spend time with their family at the end of the day. One way that I find helpful everyday is to provide employees with a lunch hour. At 11:45 every morning, I am exhausted from a busy morning, therefor my speed in treating patients may slowdown. At 1:00pm after lunch and rest, I am energized and ready to go again. Another method is to ensure that proper equipment is used to perform a task. For example, I am a clinical Dental Hygienist. I am in pretty much the same position all day long, sitting on an off balance stool, staring down into someone?s mouth. The fact that the stool is off balance forces me to twist my body, which can become uncomfortable after a long duration of

time. Another problem is that it is a stool and not a chair with a back on it. Naturally, without having the option to rest my back on the chair if I feel tired, my back and neck will be quite soar at the end of a busy day. F.Y.I.- I have requested a new chair from the boss! Ultimately, improving worker conditions and reducing fatigue will increase productivity.

The book talk about how smart Frank, the father was. He painted Morse code on the walls of their summerhouse to teach it to his children, even though it was supposed to be vacation from schooling. When the children decoded a message written on the wall, it revealed a message that told the child who decoded it where a prize was hidden. Sure, the children did not want to learn on vacation time, but they had incentives, which still work today. He also painted all of the planets and stars that you can see in the sky on the walls of their summerhouse to teach his children Astrology. Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. had many wonderful ways of teaching his children that I would like to use while raising my family some day, however I can assure you that there will not be twelve of them. My job of discipline and education may be a little less complicated than Frank and Lillian?s.

I must say, although they had such a large family, the children were well disciplined and on point, something that you do not see today, even with such small families. This family was run like a factory. There was a family council, where household chores were negotiated, and decisions were made about where the families money should be spent. Frank called an assembly line as a way to quickly round up the children in less than 18 seconds. This was great, especially in the case of an emergency,

but the children never knew what the call was for, it could be a prize for the first to make it, so they had better get down to their father and get there quickly.

A neat ability that the father, Frank, had was that as soon as he would look at a person he would know their nationality. He always used this to his advantage. Whenever the family would go somewhere where they would have to pay the person, such as a toll bridge, Frank would take one look at the person and know that their nationality was Irish. He would ask ?Do my Irishmen come cheaper by the dozen?? The owner would probably say ?Irishmen? If you are Irish you should not pat a toll on my road. Your trip is on the house.? Frank was also economical when scheduling all of the children?s tonsillectomy procedures at the same time. Not only was he saving time and money, but he was also using his children as guinea pigs for a time management and motion study with amusing and embarrassing results.

Lillian Gilbreth was a fine woman. There was one comment in the book made about her that I can especially recall. It says something to the effect that although Lillian was a well educated scholar; in fact she was still a very attractive woman. Is this to say that if you were well groomed and attractive, you were not necessarily intelligent? Or is it implying that if you were a woman scholar, it is probably because you had nothing else going for you? At any rate, we can see that times have really changed and that women are really taking strong roles in today?s economy as single mothers, wives, and businesswomen.

After Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. passed away Lillian had the knowledge, business skills, and experience of dealing with a large family to keep the Gilbreth Household on track. The older children?s job was to take care of the youngest, and the mother took care of the intermediate children and babies. With the help and contributions of the family they were able to pull through what would be a sad time for any family. This book was very inspirational. It was a true delight to learn about such a marvelous family. I would certainly recommend it to any person who plans to start a family as well as start a business!


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