Reviews in 200 Words

Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford

In Non-Fiction on June 14, 2009 at 3:30 am

Every kid who went through grade-school before a certain point remembers shop class: hot glue, wooden/Mason jar gumball machines, Lava soap, some gruff old teacher with leather-skin and banged up thumbs. That smell: sawdust and varnish—it stung the eyes and stuck to lungs, but it meant that you had something to hold at the end of the week—something with weight. Crawford has a PhD in philosophy but has found more reward in holding the tools that fix motorcycles—the paycheck for watching a bike cruise out of his shop is somehow worth more than the check for teaching a class. There is an unfortunate trend away from doing physical work—understanding how things fit together, and people are accepting it. There is a trend away from even putting up a fight. Truck’s broken because the receptionist says so? Okay, get a new one. Gone are the days of talking things over with a trusted local mechanic. People don’t even have to pump their own soap or turn on the water to wash hands. Crawford emphasizes community, but more significantly, learning in a non-academic sense—understanding how some thing works for the sake of knowing.


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