Sunday’s NY Times Magazine had an article titled The Case for Working With Your Hands which is adapted from the new book, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Mathew Crawford (available in downtown Northfield at Monkey See Monkey Read). I started getting interested in this topic back in March after reading the comments to my blog post, Whither the clocks of the Middle School Industrial Technology classes? It was brought home to me last week when a guy in my motorcycle trials club, Jim ‘Bubba’ Blount, diagnosed my carburetion problems just by listening to my bike. (continued)
The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.
One shop teacher suggested to me that “in schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement. Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”
This blog is dedicated to sharing the concept that our hands are essential to learning — that we engage the world and its wonders, sensing and creating primarily through the agency of our hands. We abandon our children to education in boredom and intellectual escapism by failing to engage their hands in learning and making.
Stowe blogged about the 3 Ds (disengagement, disinterest and disruption) back in 2006.
It was somewhat disturbing to read So many classes, so little time in high school in the Northfield News last week:
“The hands-on practical stuff is what we’re losing out on,” said Mark Woitalla, a teacher in the Indy Tech department at the high school. Woitalla’s department lost .2 FTEs this year due to lower student enrollment, which he chalks up to the curriculum’s focus on core academics. “We’re just jamming them all into academic areas, and some of the students aren’t successful there,” Woitalla said.
On the other hand, it was encouraging to read the NY Times article Many Summer Internships Are Going Organic. “A new wave of liberal arts students are heading to farms this summer, in search of both work and social change.”