Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Case for Working With Your Hands

I just read this really good article from the New York Times - someone from our local homeschool group posted it on a loop. It helped confirm some of HubbaHoney and my thoughts about education and the future of our two children. It has come to our attention bit by bit that our trades people are dwindling and this could possibly be a good direction in which to focus our attention when it comes to helping our son decide what he's going to do in order to support a family in the future.

Anyway, I wanted to share this - it's a long read but I believe well worth the time:

The television show “Deadliest Catch” depicts commercial crab fishermen in the Bering Sea. Another, “Dirty Jobs,” shows all kinds of grueling work; one episode featured a guy who inseminates turkeys for a living. The weird fascination of these shows must lie partly in the fact that such confrontations with material reality have become exotically unfamiliar. Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real. Working in an office, you often find it difficult to see any tangible result from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day? Where the chain of cause and effect is opaque and responsibility diffuse, the experience of individual agency can be elusive. “Dilbert,” “The Office” and similar portrayals of cubicle life attest to the dark absurdism with which many Americans have come to view their white-collar jobs.

Is there a more “real” alternative (short of inseminating turkeys)?

High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” 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. Click here to read the entire article.


Fred said...

You hit on a hot button of mine. Many, many kids at our school have no business whatsoever sitting in a world history class. Rather, they should spend the morning in core English, math, and reading classes, then spend the afternoon in trade school or actually working as an apprentice. It's just so darned frustrating to see the way we force some of these kids into classes that will be a waste of time for them.

Anne said...

Fred - I used to believe that history was a waste of time until I saw its value. But now I realize its effect on our modern society and feel strongly that everyone needs it so they can vote knowledgeably. I'm not comfortable with everyone in our country voting without World History knowledge. I believe you are one of the most valuable teachers because of the knowledge you have and are able to apply it to your daily decision making whether for your local community, state or federal level. You have an understanding of the past decisions and how it has affected us today.

Fred said...

Totally agree, Anne. My issue is that I don't think they need a full year of it. We can condense some of the requirements for those that need more career and technical education credits.

I do think the most important class for any student is civics (government) so they can totally grasp the workings of our democracy.

Mother Mayhem said...

I'm all for learning a trade. I was college prep all the way through high school. Never made it to college (even though I won a partial scholarship in humanities). I wish I had gone to vocational school. With her somewhat limited capabilities, I will be directing Emily into a trade. I want her to be able to DO something...