Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What Knowledge Workers Don't Know

Check out this eloquent piece in The New Atlantis that decries the move to eliminate shop class from American secondary schools -- and, indeed, an apparent trend away from educating ourselves in how things work. Don't buy it? Then consider this:

"While manufacturing jobs have certainly left our shores to a disturbing degree, the manual trades have not. If you need a deck built, or your car fixed, the Chinese are of no help. Because they are in China."

Working as I do with juvenile delinquents, I can attest to the fact that many of them are not auditory or visual learners. They learn with their hands: by doing. They'd do great at manual trades, but this opportunity to engage their minds (and no matter what anyone says, manual labor is also mental) and to make a good living is increasingly denied them.

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3 comments:

Benjamin Chambers said...
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Chuck Lanigan, Pittsburgh PA said...

Excellent points about the need for the trades and the mental aspects of manual labor. Why we take a one-size-fits-all approach to education and vocational training in preparing folks for the workplace in this country is beyond me.

In my job and teaching I initially embraced the brave new world of white-collar 'knowledge work'. This well-written essay you cite by Matthew Crawford made me question what that really means. Please see the commentary and link on my web site. Please also see the following:

Huws, Ursula, What Will We Do?: The Destruction of Occupational Identities in the ‘Knowledge-Based Economyin The Monthly Review:

http://www.monthlyreview.org/0106huws.htm

Rose, Mike, The Mind at Work:
http://mikerosebooks.com/news.html

Zuboff, Shoshana, In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power New York: Basic Books 1988 (a well-written, prescient exploration of the subject)

Thanks for an interesting 'zine and good insights.

Best,

CDL

cdm said...
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