And yet that kind of work -- and those who do that kind of work -- seems to be looked down on by American society, regardless of the fact that brains and aptitude are required there, too.
Crawford writes about how in his job as a mechanic he'll be faced with a motorcycle that won't start, so he must test theories and use the correct tools and parts to get a successful result, which is an engine that runs. It requires skill, practice and intelligence, and should generate respect. Yet it seldom does.
By looking down on those whose occupations require hands as much as or more than brains, we've widened the division that was already there. The author laments how far blue-collar work, both in numbers and prestige, has fallen, saying our "economic landscape has become such that those who don't go to college are viewed as suspect, stupid, and/or unemployable. The massification of higher education has created a new vocational pitfall: I've got a degree; therefore, I should be doing smart, clean, fun and well-paid work."
Much as we might like it to be true, we aren't all created equal. Not physically, not mentally, not gumption-wise. There's no one-size-fits-all education solution. It's ludicrous to continue as though every child is actually capable of getting a college education if they're just willing to -- gosh darn it! -- buckle down and apply themselves. (Strangely, an equally common-sense argument -- that not everyone is capable of repairing engines or trouble-shooting an office air-conditioning system -- is rarely mentioned either.)
It's natural for parents to want the best for our offspring, so it makes sense that we harp about studying and getting good grades from the time our children are small. But perhaps we're deluding ourselves about what really is best, not only for our children, but for our country as well.
We need to know how to do things for ourselves again. We need to be self-sufficient. Self-reliant. We need to be able to use our hands as well as our brains. And we need to respect those who work on both sides of the line, or eliminate the line altogether. Our scorn should be saved for those who deserve it.
Like sarcastic children who get pleasure by causing grown-ups to squirm.
Reach Karin Fuller by e-mail at karinful...@gmail.com.