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Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work Paperback – April 27, 2010
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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
Well-written read about an interesting topic. A relevant read for the current era, especially as the government continues to push the "everyone should go to college"... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Loved how he described the joy an satisfaction tradesmen have to know they have done a great job. It is self evident and others can easily see it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I bought this on a strong recommendation by a coworker and it and the topic are important and mostly OK, but frankly I couldn't easily wrap my brain around the authors political... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Gregory M. Odegaard
Great book for educational leaders and elitists to read and reflect--This is an important book, giving a passioned and insightful view of shop class in a way that the intelligensia... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Woodchuck
This book REALLY spoke to me, particularly what he calls the "degradation of work" and the disconnect between what corporations say and how they actually treat their... Read morePublished 2 months ago by hazmatdance
Great title, but dry, academic content. Got 50 pages in and stopped, death to reading momentum.Published 2 months ago by Gettysburg725
The writer is smart and he knows a lot but the writing is awkward and not pragmatic. The few stories told are all that I wanted to read. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Edward R. Wilson
Most of my professional adult life involves the pushing of paper, and when I am not at work I love to repair of build things. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kevin