Saturday, September 19, 2009

Richard Sennett in American Craft Magazine

There is an interview in American Craft this month with Richard Sennett, author of the Craftsman. He is asked his prescription for our modern culture:
RS: "I'd ban all multiple choice questions in tests, which encourage people to the the quickest answer possible rather than to dwell on the problem. This may sound frivolous, but it is quite serious. On a more practical matter, I think that craftsmanship flourishes in small-scale business and I'd like to see our government, like the British government, invest more in small-production businesses. That's an absolute necessity. To support craftsmanship you have to support enterprise on the small-scale level.

Also, in the United States we don't put enough money into mentoring and have very poor mentor programs. We don't pay master craftsmen to take on and train young craftsmen. we don't see that as a social good. This is the single policy we could do in the U. S. to get people engaged in the transfer of physical knowledge from master to apprentice. So they can learn skills directly from those actually practicing their craft. I would really like to see this happen."
Me, too. Years ago I was given an apprentice for training through the CETA program. I was paid a token amount as the teacher and my apprentice was given pay for his help in my work, a small amount to buy tools for his own use, and at the end of his apprenticeship he became a professional cabinet maker for a number of years. But that was during the Carter administration and government was working to sustain a clear relationship with reality and seemed to have a sense of the potential of very small businesses.

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