Brian's Reviews > Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford
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Feb 26, 11

Read in February, 2011

What a disappointment this book was .....

I cannot imagine that anyone who ever took a shop class in high school could possibly have enjoyed this book. It was so full of over-analytical philosophizing by a Ph.D. in Philosophy who decided to quit the "think tank" rat race of academia to run a shop doing motor cycling repair. I applaud him for knowing what he really wanted to do and then actually doing it. And even though he lists his reasons for writing the book in the next to the last chapter (something I kept pondering as I slugged through this laborious text), I still don't think I really know why he wrote this book, which is disappointing to me.

I was interested to learn about the birth of shop class in the early 20th century, but the changes in higher education opportunities associated with the G.I. Bill of 1945 and their eventual impact on college bound curriculum of high school students is something the author didn't discuss, which surprised me.

I was also curious about the fact that the author didn't trash the engineers who designed things that are difficult or impossible to fix. I kept expecting this to show up every time I started a new chapter, but he never discussed it and I still don't know why. About the only people the author had any respect for were laborers in the building trades and mechanics that fix broken equipment. It would have made more sense to me if the author denigrated the engineers that design buildings and machinery, for designing them to be overly complicated. But he never did, and I still can't figure out why.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Shifting Phases I suspect it's because he takes the systemic view rather than the liberal view -- that the system we have created, and our willful ignorance about that system, is more to blame than any individual within it. And he trashes the system quite thoroughly. Thanks for the thoughtful review.


Reza Putra Are you a lecturer, Brian?


Nancy Ferrier I'm right there with you, Brian. So much of it was over my head, but then he had moments (or chapters) where I felt like he connected with his reader in a very down-to-earth, real and funny way. It was just too hard to wade through his analytical philosphizing, as you said. I had high hopes for the book. Maybe I should have another go at it-sometimes I need to read things that challenge me a little more.


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