Listening to KUOW’s Weekday this morning, I was captivated by Steve Scher’s guest and what he had to say about manual labor. Matthew Crawford has a PhD in philosophy, runs a motorcycle repair shop, and has some intriguing and very relevant ideas about education, class, livelihood, work, craftsmanship, and the trades.
Crawford remarked on the “differences in disposition” that we (parents, educators, society) need to recognize in students–not everyone will be happy in an academic track, not everyone is cut out for college, and there are many people whose intelligence is better expressed through the trades. More than that, he makes the case that most everyone would benefit from knowing a trade and experiencing the immediacy of catastrophe or success and feeling utter responsibility for that outcome.
I’m lucky enough to know several people who are autodidacts or are otherwise non-traditionally brilliant–and I’m convinced that knowing how to work with one’s hands is an essential part of human expression and satisfaction. The philosophy of my friend M.O. in Okanogan comes to mind: part of rearing her children is training them in a trade–she grows and processes lavender; her husband tunes pianos. Whatever else the children study and go on to do, they will know something practical and useful.
On that note, look what I know how to use now:
I used it to cut cedar planks, then finished them with tung oil:
Basement stairway ceiling commenced: