Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Disappearance of Shop Class

Here are two interesting articles on "The Disappearance of Shop Class" and how we are made to handle things, fix things and create things. In our disposable culture we are missing this very important "agency" of who we are. Boy, don't I know it. I get really frustrated with guys who sit impotent claiming they can't fix things or work on the car, or the house, or whatever. I take everything apart to see if I can fix it before I decide to buy something new. I don't always do a perfect job, many times (every time?) a professional would do a much better job, but I believe it is worthwhile to my self-image for me to try. Plus it saves money. Although, I will admit, I've pretty much given up on plumbing. I say that, but just this week I replaced the dishwasher (after taking the old one apart) and the kitchen faucet (after taking the old one apart) and neither one leaked! On the dishwasher, the circuit board was bad after 5 years of 2 or 3 loads a day, and the thing never worked well anyway. You get what you pay for. The faucet leaked from the factory seal where the pipe goes into the unit and the new one was given to me by someone who got a fancier one given to him.

The original article is "Shop Class as Soulcraft" by Matthew B. Crawford. Here is an interview with Matthew Crawford in PDF. Starts on page 8. Both are very good. If you want a short intro to the idea, read the interview. The New Atlantis essay is long. I would say this should be required reading for all young men and those training boys to be men.

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