Saturday, June 6, 2009

On Working With Your Hands

I'm thankful to have come from part of the country and a family where nobody would have imagined the need to write a defense of craftsmanship. But for all my readers who've been raised and educated to be "knowledge workers" with no thought to the alternative, Matthew Crawford outlines "The Case for Working With Your Hands" in NYT Magazine, an abridgment of his philosophical treatise "Shop Class as Soulcraft" in The New Atlantis, which has now been expanded into a book.

American culture as a whole idealizes the thought of being one's own boss, and yet does not encourage promising young people to enter the only sector of the economy where this goal is not only realistic, but relatively commonplace: the skilled trades. Crawford's focus is on the mechanical trades, but the requirements of creativity and problem-solving and the rewards of concrete satisfaction and connection to the community are just as real for pastry chefs, florists, and cobblers (they still exist) as they are for plumbers, electricians, and auto mechanics.

My goal is nothing less than the "miracle" of small-scale self-employment.

1 comment:

Elephantschild said...

I think I might be a decent cobbler. I know I'll be a decent organ shop tech, which I'll take up at some point when Sparkle doesn't need me at home all day. I'm no good at tuning, but I'm good with the tiny handwork and putzy stuff that organ rebuilding needs.

I hear pastry chef calling your name. There's also something else that can't be outsourced - clergy.