Friday, May 22, 2009

"Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work"

I recently read an essay entitled "The Case for Working with Your Hands" based on this forthcoming book by Matthew B. Crawford, which will be soon published by Penquin Press. The essay, like the book, puts forth the premise that many of our young people, in their parents' quest to provide them with future "success" are hustled off to college and pointed at "cerebral" professions rather than allowing attention to be paid to natural tendencies for "hands on" work. Therefore education and work become "abstract and distant". The author makes quite a case for his theories.

Nothing in this essay surprises me. As a coach who has spent lots of time assisting adolescents in making post secondary choices, I have been aware for years of the disconnect in our American culture between what is seen as "real" work and hands on work. Mike Rowe, the star of "Dirty Jobs", a popular television show on the TLC network, has stated that Americans have declared war on work, or "hands on" work. Parents, before you begin talking to your children about post secondary education, which I agree all young people need, make sure that in your desire to do the best for them, you allow their personalities, interests and abilities to help drive their choices. A four year degree from a college or university is not the only answer, and in this day of outsourcing and massive layoffs, a young person who is equipped to earn a living with both his brains and his hands can indeed do very well in life.

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