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Shop Class as Soulcraft

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Uglydog

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#1
I read this last summer.
I found this a formative read.
I believe that it likely will appeal to every HM member. Regardless of their education or technical expertise.
We really are all the same. Where and how do "I" fit into this crazy world....
This book is an easy read.
The book suggests we value self-reliance, and hands on work. Sounds like everybody on this forum....


"Shop Class as Soulcraft is really an argument for shades of the philosophic life and against assembly-line-ism. The problem with so-called "knowledge work" in the white-collar service industry, aside from the lack of objective standards, is that it breaks up knowledge into rules, laws, and formulae. It never asks for judgment or skill and it presumes creativity is an amorphous result of sixteen years of education when creativity is really a byproduct of mastery. And mastery is only possible when the poorly-wrought veil of procedural instructions is lifted from the object." Excerpt from a much larger review at:
http://counterpoint.uchicago.edu/archives/autumn2010/shopclass.html

And...

"From the book jacket:
A philosopher / mechanic destroys the pretensions of the high-prestige workplace and makes an irresistible case for working with one’s hands.Shop Class as Soulcraft brings alive an experience that was once quite common, but now seems to be receding from society: making and fixing things. Those of us who sit in an office often feel a lack of connection to the material world and find it difficult to say exactly what we do all day. For anyone who felt hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, Shop Class as Soulcraft seeks to restore the honor of the manual trades as a life worth choosing. On both economic and psychological grounds, Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a “knowledge worker,” based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing, the work of the hand from that of the mind. Crawford shows us how such a partition, which began a century ago with the assembly line, degrades work for those on both sides of the divide.
But Crawford offers good news as well: the manual trades are very different from the assembly line, and from dumbed-down white collar work as well. They require careful thinking and are punctuated by moments of genuine pleasure. Based on his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford makes a case for the intrinsic satisfactions and cognitive challenges of manual work. The work of builders and mechanics is secure; it cannot be outsourced, and it cannot be made obsolete. Such work ties us to the local communities in which we live, and instills the pride that comes from doing work that is genuinely useful. A wholly original debut, Shop Class as Soulcraft offers a passionate call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world."
http://www.matthewbcrawford.com/

Daryl
MN
 

Ray C

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#2
From a business perspective, the vast majority of executive management and BoD members would give their eye teeth if every job could be broken down into the smallest, simplest possible function then, hire monkeys that work for peanuts and bananas to perform those trivial tasks. This is a great departure of how humans evolved whereby the ability to think on the fly meant the difference between life, death and survival. Also, "new-age" jobs are bad for you and by all accounts, will get you in almost as much trouble as smoking and drinking excessively.

About a year ago, I read a newspaper article about a guy who started a school to teach heavy equipment operation -like bulldozers, wrecking balls and other golliath stuff. The average applicant was in his 50's, had an engineering degree, 30 years sitting at a desk -and couldn't take it anymore. Enrollment was prefilled for years to come.

As I wind-down from the "corporate world" I have every intention of expanding my abilities and garage shop so I can maintain a "retirement job". -I won't do well as a greeter as Walmart.

Ray
 

Rbeckett

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#3
Ray,
I'm like you. I would be the creepy Wally world greeter that asked if you wanted to leave the leetle keeds with meeee? I wouldn't be able to resist poking fun at the tube tops, pajamas, bunny slippers and spandex, so I would only last an hour or two before I got fired for pissing off fat women. But it sure would be a fun hour or two. My original plan was to retire when I got back from Afghanistan and just run my metal work shop for fun and pocket money. One of those work on what you want when you want kind of things. But I got sick in Iraq and had to give it up a couple of years too early and picked up some physical limitations that have taken some of the fun out of being "retired". Slowly but surely I am getting back into the shop, so it isn't a total loss yet.

Bob
 

churchjw

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#4
Sounds like a great book. I just checked and our Library has it but its checked out till 8-18. So I put a hold on it and will get it as soon as it gets back.

Thanks for posting this,
Jeff
 

sniggler

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#5
Sounds like a cool book. I like to think about the subject this way. With the growth and profitability service industry more and more people make their livings producing nothing tangible.

Ultimately we are all still living on the what is actually produced, manufactured, grown, built, planted, harvested ect... and in that sense it is those involved in production that carry all the rest. On the other hand my older brother is a computer consultant and the stuff between his ears is a commodity all the same.

Bob
 

churchjw

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#6
I am about half way done with this book. Thank you so much for posting it. I think everyone that teaches, has kids in school, or has a white collar job should read it.

Jeff
 

The Liberal Arts Garage

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#8
Some of you understand that I " Ran Sceaming " from a planned life as a?
Captain of Industry. Being fairly smart and having "Good Hands" I had
many choices in my life , giving up my mother and father's support. In
have been poor but have helped raise several children to be good citizens
of the world,and Our USA as its best model, confused as we may be. .........
Let's Give our descendants a life of hearts, hands, and brains.
BLJHB.
 

The Liberal Arts Garage

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#9
By the way, won't someone buy my " Machinery's Bible" best edition,
1942 , with the best mix of old and new knowledge for young and old
Seekers of Truth ( just kidding). Bid high, profits to HM-------
BLJHB.
 

silverforgestudio

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#11
This is a good book- kind of a moral compass- but like all things there are some quirks to it... the author only works on imports and nothing domestic- and his shop is now closed (couldn't find him when I went to Richmond last fall for a weekend with the wife)... the concepts are solid and based in a very UNdeniable self truth that many machinists and garage crafters "get"... I heard one person put it more eloquently than me so I will quote them:

"The problem isn't the American Dream... its how to wake up from it and get your feet back on the ground"
 

markba633csi

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#12
Yep I read it, he gets into some pretty high-falutin' philosophising at times; so much so that in some chapters I really couldn't figure out what the **** he was talking about.
But an interesting book in the vein of "Zen and the art of MM"
He has a sequel too, haven't read yet.
Mark S.
 

vtcnc

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#13
Read this a while back. Many, many thoughts come to mind - which I think is a sign of a good book.

I liked it but thought to myself...this guy can afford to be able to take the time to write this. At the time, it seemed to me to be the beginning of the modern hipster trend where people started to be willing to pay good money for a CNC engraved bamboo cup holder.

Then last week I met some "youngsters" half my age (I'm 42) that charge $300 for a custom bar stool! I DON'T get it, but I suppose that there are a lot of people out there willing to pay for that sort of craftsmanship. Then I think - I can get a lathe for $300! And wonder what the hell is wrong with this world?!

I have to say, Crawford's writings left an impression on me and in a very small way - re-enforced my desire to make things. However, my most recent thoughts about the trades:

1) I really like growing a business so people with trades have an opportunity to work,
2) But damn, sometimes, they make it easy to want to automate.

Crawford is definitely speaking to the "Maker" millennial generation. I like the way he thinks, but I've got millennial tradesmen working on my team - and sometimes I wonder if they think their trades are based on science or do they just think the rest of the world is ignorant of welding, machining, etc.?

I wish self-education was a more common desire.
 

Uglydog

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#14
I've got millennial tradesmen working on my team - and sometimes I wonder if they think their trades are based on science or do they just think the rest of the world is ignorant of welding, machining, etc.?

I wish self-education was a more common desire.
vtcnc,
I'm not suggesting that I'd be any better than your current hires. But, I did have to pause and wonder what the commute time to Vermont from Minnesota might be...

Daryl
MN
 

vtcnc

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#15
vtcnc,
I'm not suggesting that I'd be any better than your current hires. But, I did have to pause and wonder what the commute time to Vermont from Minnesota might be...

Daryl
MN
Daryl, this time of year? See you in the spring!
 

ddickey

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#16
Would do almost anything to get into a trade. I've been trying a while. Very difficult to get in. I'm a journeyman now but I don't consider my job a skilled trade.
 

The Liberal Arts Garage

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#17
vtcnc,
I'm not suggesting that I'd be any better than your current hires. But, I did have to pause and wonder what the commute time to Vermont from Minnesota might be...

Daryl
MN
As I hope, a Kindred Spirit, I have long considered fine work a form of
worship; fine, inspired tools a step in our Progress,and an obligation to
pass on our work and bits of discovered wisdom to our Inheritors
.........BLJHB.
 

markba633csi

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#18
Check out "Punching out: one year in a closing auto plant" by Paul Clemens. Highly recommended.
Mark S.
 
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