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Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work Paperback – April 27, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Matt Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft touched a chord with me. Both his life and his book are a rebuke to the assumptions which govern modern ideas about work, economics, self-worth, and happiness. Crawford would seem to have lived the American Dream right into his twenties. He finished his formal education (which, to judge by the breadth of references to literature and philosophy in the book, wasn't shabby) and was quickly hired by a Washington "think tank". Any young, aggressive climber would recognize this as a coveted place from which to launch of career. But where others would see a rapid ascent up the social pyramid, Crawford sensed emptiness. He left to work in a motorcycle repair shop, where he got his hands dirty, fixed bikes, and used his brain. Where others might see "mere" manual labor, he learned the value of a tangible skill. He now shares with readers his thoughts on this value, how it is vanishing from modern society, and the implications for us as a people.
Crawford traces the evolution of shop class, its intended and unintended consequences, and its subsequent rapid retreat from our schools. He lays out the historical transition from individual craftsman to interchangeable piece of a human assembly line during the industrial revolution. Much more frighteningly, he reviews how the same approach is well underway in the "white collar" information economy. Whether one has lived the absurdities of cubicle farms first hand or only through Dilbert, it is not hard to see how the modern, homogenized college prep education and liberal arts degree leaves a modern worker predisposed to try to fit as a cog in a modern information assembly line.Read more ›
There are two problems. The first is the 'Malcolm Gladwell problem'. Remember when our founding fathers published pamphlets? Let's bring that back. This first appeared as an essay and probably should have stayed as one, it's just not full length book material.
The other problem is that he presents a simple truth which is only half the story. To the author, there is hand-work, in which feedback is absolute therefore the work stays meaningful, and office work, in which achievement is unnecessary and an accent on procedure over substance has ruined everything. What he's missing (and this is where some of the condescension toward craftsmanship Mr. Crawford bristles at so is actually based on a grain of truth) is that all these possibilities exist in both worlds, they're just more obvious in the hands-on. We have all gotten back a car that's still broken because a mechanic only followed the procedures in a shop manual he was ordered to follow by corporate hq.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well written book, but better bone up on your vocabulary. He doesn't parse words, he is very verbose.Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
Good, but a little wordy, reads a little more like a doctoral thesis than an easy read.Published 22 days ago by bruce christopherson
I came across the name Matthew Crawford while reading an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Reid Mccormick
Really made me think about my white collar job as being pretty pointless. Slow at first but then it gets moving quickly.Published 1 month ago by Nate M.
A modern exploration on work and a clear tribute to the Zen of motorcycle maintenance. Anyone wondering about why they do (or should do) what they do could benefit from the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by EG LaRoux
Excellent book for anyone who works with their hands; artists, craftspeople, etc. Also recommend for non-artists and educators who want to understand the necessity, and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by james gloria