The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.The author of the article, Matthew Crawford, is one you may remember as the author of the New Atlantis Article, Shop Class as Soulcraft. Shop Class as Soulcraft, an inquiry into the value of work, is now expanded and published as a book and will be released by Penguin Press this week. Crawford states further:
"I taught briefly in a public high school and would have loved to have set up a Ritalin fogger in my classroom. It is a rare person, male or female, who is naturally inclined to sit still for 17 years in school, and then indefinitely at work."He had noted in his short time in the classroom what every educator from the time of Comenius had observed, and yet, we have created an educational system that obstructs every natural inclination of our humanity. Those inclinations are to build, plant, tend and care-for through action in the real world expressing the engagement of the hands. Interestingly, I found myself quoted without clear attribution in the article as follows from my blog post of October 16, 2006:
One shop teacher suggested to me that “in schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement. Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”I have had a conversation with Mr. Crawford and he is making an effort to set things right. He posted a note to his website, along with a link to this blog, and arranged that the New York Times article provide a link to the Wisdom of the Hands.