Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So, what's the difference between Joe the Plumber and Wisdom of the Hands? It is a good question, don't you think? How can we recognize the can-do intelligence of the common people without succumbing to an anti-intellectualism which wrongly disparages those who engage in complex thinking?

Jean Jacques Rousseau said that "the great secret of education is to combine mental and physical work so that the one kind of exercise refreshes for the other."

When mental and physical work are combined, the participants are lifted to their highest potentials. Work with the hands liberates the intellect from the struggle with abstract concepts, and provides opportunity for creative insight.

But what happens when the educational system stifles confidence in learning and isolates work of the hands from the exploration of intellectual capacities?

Hello Joe. I hope you have a wonderful new life. I heard that being yanked into the limelight by the McCain campaign may bring other opportunities. In the meantime, I will keep blogging in the hopes that all of us who work with our hands will be encouraged toward greater intellectual curiosity, and the "intellectual elite" will find a renewed passion for creativity through their own hands.... drawing us all together toward the best of both worlds, as described by Rousseau, hands-on exploration and the exercise of intellect each refreshing the other.


  1. Why do you say that Joe the Plumber despises intellectual elites? I have not heard any evidence of this? Nice wooden boxes last week B.T.W.

  2. Joe became more a symbol to the McCain campaign than a real person and in fact wasn't really a licensed plumber or considering buying his boss's business as he claimed.

    If you read more closely you will notice that I didn't say Joe despises the intellectual elite. Misquoting is par for the political course/discourse in today's America. A case can clearly be made that the McCain campaign and Sarah Palin were targeting the intellectual elite with their disdainful remarks, attempting to drive a wedge between blue and white collar classes. It is the same principle as when racism has been used as a wedge issue to keep unity from growing among the poor.... divide and conquer.

    It didn't work. Bill Ayers, whom some would consider a terrorist is an academic at the University of Chicago working on educational reform, and is highly respected despite his past. (Some might say he has earned redemption) The other person that McCain/Palin targeted as a co-conspirator with Obama is Rashid Khaladi, a highly regarded middle eastern scholar at Columbia University. As a follow-up in support of McCain/Palin, Joe Scarborough, "Morning Joe" expressed disdain for the whole of Columbia University in his remarks.

    I'm glad you liked the

  3. Being a new dog owner, I was captivated by a bumper sticker I saw recently: "Wag more, bark less." I think that sums up what I hope will be happening now post-election. There is surely something about the political process that brings out the worst in all of us...perhaps it is our sense of desperation with the status quo and our passionate hopes that things will change. One of my favorite books is by William Henry, In Defense of Elitism. I think it sheds a good deal of light on this whole topic. Happy reading to all!

  4. I'll look for the book. It seems that being driven to succeed is a good thing. I have become an "elitist" in crafts. There is a lot of stuff I don't care for, wouldn't bother to make or even take time to examine, but that same stuff may fit into someone's aspirations and lead them on a process of growth and discovery. So what a waste it would be to pass judgment on it or its maker.

    A person can be elitist (the other choice is mediocrity) and still be available to serve, lead and inspire without judgment of others.