Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford

This soul-searching book on life, work, study is so poignant in such technological times. Crawford is part mechanic, part academic and provides insights into the lost art of working with our hands and craftsmanship. Ending up in a ‘think-tank’ job from his academic pathway of political philosophy, the observations and questioning from Crawford makes you consider the ‘important’s in life’. His passion for motorcycle mechanics becomes incorporated into his future work, and subsequent overall satisfaction in life.

In education the loss of hands-on training, the workshop class such as woodwork, metalwork has disappeared probably forever.  The downgrading of manual work, and an education pathway to university rather than into the workplace is now becoming norm (lifelong learning). The single use ‘throw away’ culture as Crawford describes, and not understanding the equipment we now use daily in our lives is also a norm. This impacts on our learners as we (educators) expect from employees levels of understanding, critical thinking but how can this be achieved in such an environment? Crawford makes us question if we still value vocational training and work anymore?


Book: Crawford, M. B. (2009). Shop Class as Soulcraft: An inquiry into the value of work. Penguin. [sample here]

Article: Crawford, M. B. (2006). Shop Class as Soulcraft. The New Atlantis, (13), 7-24.