Thursday, October 27, 2011

a society of craftsmen...

A society that understands the value of craftsmanship would be far different from what we have now. Otto Salomon had said that: “The objects that the child makes are as useful as those made by the carpenter; but, unlike the work of the carpenter, the value of the child’s work does not exist in them, but in the child that made them.” Over two hundred years earlier John Amos Comenius had quoted an old proverb as follows: "We give form to ourselves and to our materials at the same time." A young man or woman standing at a lathe gives shape, not just to to the wood but to him or herself.

And what we see in these simple observations is that in the making of useful beauty, more happens than meets the eye. As we turn our attention toward beauty in the service of others, it is we ourselves who are transformed.

Reader John Grossbohlin sent an article from the Wall Street Journal, Why Companies Aren't Getting the Employees They Need from October 24.
Employers are quick to lay blame. Schools aren't giving kids the right kind of training. The government isn't letting in enough high-skill immigrants. The list goes on and on. But I believe that the real culprits are the employers themselves.

With an abundance of workers to choose from, employers are demanding more of job
candidates than ever before. They want prospective workers to be able to fill a role right away, without any training or ramp-up time. Bad for Companies, Bad for Economy In other words, to get a job, you have to have that job already. It's a Catch-22 situation for workers—and it's hurting companies and the economy.
We have become reluctant to invest in each other. It seems we would rather buy cheap stuff from foreign lands made with little human skill and less attention, than to empower the growth of those around us. So the rich choose to live in gated communities so as not to be exposed to the society they have created by neglecting those who could instead have been challenged to arise to the highest of human form through engagement in the creative arts.

We have bankers walking the streets of our largest cities who have no sense of the craftsmanship involved in the creation of the buildings they occupy and take for granted. We have great universities built using skills that none of their students in the contemporary era can appreciate or understand. Yale is an example.

In contrast I am reminded of Pauline Agazzis Shaw who as a young mother became interested in Kindergarten and started sixteen of them in the city of Boston, knowing that it was not enough to offer advantages to her own children without building the whole of the culture in which they would live. She is also known as the founder of the North Bennet St. Industrial School and the woman who founded the Sloyd training school in Boston.

I cannot tell you how to get there from here, but we need to develop a sense of the value of craftsmanship while the whole of our culture is aimed toward ease of use rather than the challenge of arising to accomplish difficult and demanding things. We have whole generations of Americans who have not developed enough skill to understand the gifts that craftsmanship can offer toward the development of both individual and culture.

A society of craftsmen would know that challenging our children to arise to their best would build whole communities as each child arose to fulfill roles in life that expressed great character, concern for each other and for the nation and planet.
an interesting thing is happening in relation to our current recession. Americans are staying put. according to this article in the Huffington Post.
WASHINGTON -- Americans are staying put more than at any time since World War II, as the housing bust and unemployment keep young adults at home and thwart older Americans' plans for a beachfront or lakeside retirement.

New information from the Census Bureau is the latest indicator of economic trouble, after earlier signs that mobility was back on the upswing. It's also a shift from America's long-standing cultural image of ever-changing frontiers, dating to the westward migration of the 1800s and more recently in the spreading out of whites, blacks and Hispanics in the Sun Belt's housing boom.
That bodes well for the creation of a sense of community. Perhaps people will begin once again to find value in establishing deep roots within their communities, become craftsmen of their own lives.

As far as I can see, since schools are moving in exactly the wrong direction, we must take matters into our own hands. Those with lots of money should look to Pauline Agassiz Shaw for inspiration. For the rest of us,

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:15 PM

    Great post today. Really well done.