From Publishers Weekly
This groundbreaking study finds that the intelligence, integrated skills and achievements of blue collar and service workers have been consistently undermined and marginalized by cultural stereotyping. Rose (Possible Lives
) finds conventional assessment of intelligence tied to social class: to IQ tests that measure formal schooling rather than capacity, and judgments that elevate "mind work" such as teaching or surgery over so-called "body work" represented by hair stylists or plumbers. Rose demonstrates, through research and personal exploration of a variety of workplaces, that cognitive ability, including perception, judgment, memory and knowledge, is employed daily in the work of laborers like welders, carpenters and drivers. He includes an extraordinarily moving biography of his mother, who used timing, concentration, strategic efficiency and a high degree of social skills in her work as a waitress. He profiles vocational teachers such as Jim Padilla, who motivates and guides his student electricians while passing on the concentration, problem-solving skills and persistence necessary to success. Rose also provides an excellent overview of the academic-vocational divide and argues that its effacement is necessary for a more democratic society. Well written and perceptive, but never dogmatic, Rose's book puts an important and generally poorly covered piece of the U.S.'s sociological puzzle in bold relief.
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Through in-depth research, Rose, a member of the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies demonstrates that cultural stereotyping has invariably underestimated blue-collar workers intelligence and accomplishments. Rose quotes a policy analyst: How do you honor a students construction worker father while creating the conditions for his child to not be a construction worker? Combining memoir (his mother was a waitress) with case studies, he also provides an excellent overview of the academic-vocational divide, though at times his overly scholarly descriptions of the work environment reflect this division. Generally fast paced and never dogmatic, however, Rose has certainly drawn an original portrait of America at work.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.