I can change a flat tire, hang a shelf, and?well, that’s about it. My father, on the other hand, knows how to repair a furnace, loves looking under the hood of a car, and is savvy enough in the ? garden to know his annuals from his perennials. In America’s high schools, it seems, shop class has been replaced by computer courses. What we’re left with is a diminishing number of people who know how to fix things and a growing number who call other people to fix things. In Shop Class as Soulcraft, Ph.D.?turned?motorcycle mechanic Matthew B. Crawford tackles this epidemic by mixing wonky studies with livelier anecdotes about his own back-to-basics career switch. Like David Owen’s home-improvement memoir Sheetrock & Shellac, Crawford’s slim volume is a call to arms — or at least a call to The Home Depot — for the mechanically uninclined, arguing that only when we find out how things are made (and repaired) will we learn to appreciate them. His former day job as a think-tank drone does his lifeless writing few favors. But it’s an inspiring argument — hell, it made me want to take apart my vacuum cleaner. B

Shop Class as Soulcraft
  • Book