Sunday, January 28, 2018

the dignity of all labor...

The CEO of a large corporation doesn’t credit his hard working employees for company profits. He will point instead to the value of his intellectual guidance and then ask for even more money that he does not need.

Folks have this idea that the head and hands are different things with the head being of greatest importance and the hands being subservient. This attitude sustains the white collar/blue collar divide… those who have gone to college vs. those who are left to suffer in the rust belt or small farming community and at the sidelines of financial success.

In the very early days of manual arts training it was considered necessary that all students be trained in hand skills as a way to insure that all would understand the dignity of all labor and the workings of mind. The divide between the working (industrial class) and the financial elite has been with us a long time. Seeing slaves in the field slaving however hard was not a thing that necessarily encouraged the master to see slaves as kin.

But compare the intellect and moral capacity of Dylan Root with those he killed in the black church. That may be what folks need to think about before waving Confederate battle flags. Recognizing that blacks are the moral and intellectual equals to whites would lead us forward.

To be concise, the hands and brain comprise a learning system, each having co-evolved in essential relation to each other. Since the Smith-Hughes Act was passed (1917), the consequences have been tragic, in that the working class is made poor and made to feel dumb, and the intellectual class is deprived of balance, made stupidly selfish, and made to feel self-justifiably superior.

And so, one of the things we most need in education is that all students be educated to attain skills of hand as well as of mind. One without the other is stupidity of one sort or the other.

The image above is of pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaxagoras who said, "Man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands." Those who fail to understand the relationship between the workings of the hands and the development of intellect, are just plain dumb.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.


  1. Thank you for this, Doug. It perfectly expresses the disconnect we seem to see between so-called intellectual labor and manual labor. We're all in this together. I appreciate you speaking from the head and heart...

  2. My electrician, plumber and mechanic all know how much I respect and admire their work. They all do things that I could do myself, probably not as well. They earn their pay.