God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, gave special hand capabilities to some in compensation for the gifts they were not given of intellect, right?Sorry, but hand skills are no booby prize. Anyone who has taught woodworking to children will know that the skills of the hand enrich the educational experience for all children. Even gifted and talented children are made more gifted, creative and confident by time spent crafting and learning with their hands in the wood shop.
My daughter, Lucy, at Columbia University, asked that we add something special to her recent "care package." Many years ago when she was about 5 years old, she had gotten a small hammer as a present from my sister, with a series of small screwdrivers that nest in the handle. Lucy said that now, at Columbia, living in the dorm, there were no tools on her floor... no hammers, screwdrivers, etc. Even the boys came without tools. So, I sent the hammer. It is tiny. But when it comes to nails, it should work better than a laptop.
It was Abraham Maslow who said that if the only tool you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. I will add, that if the only tool you have is a laptop, all the world's problems appear virtual, indistinct, insolvable and remote.
I have been in an attempted correspondence with the Provost of Columbia University, and he has been kind to respond to a couple of my emails. The idea I have is this:
The American academic institutions have played a large part in creating a national environment of classism, the primary instrument of which has been the deliberate denigration of labor, leading to the rise of ghettos, institutional racism, and poverty. The way to address that classism is to interject tools and hands-on learning opportunities into the experience of the liberally educated elite. When I visited at Yale, I noted the exquisitely crafted stone in a learning environment in which no students were at all educated in the processes of crafting that stone and none had any deep experiential appreciation of the environment which had been carefully crafted for their education.
You can count your way through all the American institutions of learning and will find few or none in which students are acquainted at depth with the processes, the craftsmanship or character of those whose skill and genius created the institutions they inhabit.
But there are ways to fix things. Not easy. It could take planning and investment of resources.
Now, on the fifth floor of John Jay Hall, there is one student equipped with both a hammer (though it be a small one) and a laptop. Revolutions nearly always start small and in this case very small. Momentum is required. We can get a grasp of things. Get a handle on learning. Don't hold your breath, but keep your fingers crossed. Small insights grow large through careful examination. Pick up a stick, a knife and whittle. Take some time in reflection on your own consciousness with each and every stroke. Then share what you've learned with others. If in fact, you learn that you have no skill what-so-ever, spend a few moments in consideration of those who do, and the dignity of what they do and with respect to the gifts they have created.