Confessions of a Reluctant Teacher

July 15, 2009

Shop Class as Soulcraft: How did I not hear about this book?!

Filed under: Books — christinag503 @ 9:37 pm

There is already a long waiting list for Shop Class as Soulcraft, by Matthew B. Crawford, at the Multnomah County Library. I just became #163 in line.

From the essay (adapted from the book) published in the New York Times Magazine this May, I think Mr. Crawford and I have a lot in common. He connects the disconnection and absurdity many people experience in the corporate, cubicle life to the burgeoning economic crisis. I especially enjoyed his story about a workplace that “demanded that [he] project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning.”

He also makes a few brief mentions of the role of School, as an institution that supposedly prepares the next generation to contribute to society in an economic capacity. As I mentioned in an older post, the current trend of herding the population into colleges to turn them into “knowledge workers” results in profit for the institutions, and unsustainable ‘education inflation’ for the rest of us. I like how Mr. Crawford states it:

“The escalating demand for academic credentials in the job market gives the impression of an ever-more-knowledgeable society, whose members perform cognitive feats their unschooled parents could scarcely conceive of. On paper, my abstracting job, multiplied a millionfold, is precisely what puts the futurologist in a rapture: we are getting to be so smart! Yet my M.A. obscures a more real stupidification of the work I secured with that credential, and a wage to match.”

I love that word, stupidification.

From what I’ve read of the essay, he is a skillful, engaging writer, and I am so excited to read the rest of his book! I might even buy it (from an independent bookstore, of course) if the library takes too long. If anyone else has read this book, please let me know what you thought.


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