In a New York Times article, the psychologist Barry Schwarz asks what work is for, and what can make it fulfilling.
One of Schwarz’s main ideas is that healthy, fulfilling work requires reduced compulsion, reduced regimentation, and more individual autonomy for the worker over his/her moment-to-moment actions. A second point he makes is that fulfilling work requires that the worker have a a personal stake in the task at hand. Thus Schwarz makes a helpful contribution to a 150-year old discussion, about how to make ‘alienated labor’ less alienated, less disconnected from the core of one’s self.
(On a different note, it’s striking how these conditions for fulfilling, non-alienated work — e.g., more individual autonomy, more of a personal stake — apply equally well to a fulfilling, non-alienated education.)