1101-391 Language and Identity.

Hadassah Boodhoo

English Composition I

Dr. Carrie Hall


Prompt 3

Shop Class as Soulcraft Essay


When we’re presented with a text that provides an author who wants to prove their point. We first need to understand their claims and why they present them. As readers, we would try to grasp on the information they give us. Sometimes, it’s clear and you can clearly state what the author is discussing about. But, there are some texts that are hard to decipher. Which can be hard for some readers to fully understand the texts. What makes readers unique is how they can interpret a text and give their own perspective on what its about. Everyone is different on how they view an article. There is no right or wrong answer. Moving forward, particular texts like, “Shop Class as Soulcraft” is a good example where readers need to ponder what Crawford is arguing about. It gives off a whole new meaning to explore and go in depth on what he wants his audience to know about.     

The effect of Crawford’s work left me to ponder and slowly made me understand his claim. In some cases I thought I was on the right track on understanding what he was discussing about. However, it wasn’t exactly how it turned out to be. In one of his quotes: “  My real concern here is not with the economics of skilled manual work, but rather with its intrinsic satisfactions. I mention these economic rumors only to raise a suspicion against the widespread prejudice that such work is somehow not viable as a livelihood.”[pg.8] At first when I read this quote I didn’t fully understand what he was discussing about. He used the word “prejudice” which got me confused as to how manual work can be faced with a situation like that. I thought it was about something completely different, but rereading it made me realize that manual work is biased by other people’s perception of it. Which gives off a negative impact about manual work.


His word choice is something that I had trouble with. He would even put a few academic words that I didn’t even know existed. Then I would have to reread or look up the definition of the words he use, and know what the sentence is about. According to Crawford, “Computational tools for crafting are entities poised somewhere between the abstract, untouchable world of software objects and the homey constraints of human dexterity…”[pg.12-13] I searched up the words I had trouble with like “dexterity’. It means skills. So having to go back in forth in the reading had me a little frustrated to know that these types of vocabulary words have simple meanings to it. It’s like a high school student who tries to use extreme words that are hard to understand to make themselves sound intelligent. When in reality they don’t know how to properly use the words in these sentences they are trying to form. However, I’m not saying that he doesn’t know how to use these words properly, he just use them in a way that sometimes make it difficult for me to understand the sentence.


Interestingly, his work explores factual evidence that correlates to his biases about the blue collar and white collar workforces. In certain aspects in his writing he discusses about how manual work wasn’t like how it used to be. He even complained about the workforce back in the day. He used his personal experiences and went in depth to explain how things were like when he was younger. Crawford just sounds like an angry old timer who wish things were like they used to be. However, in all honesty, in the new age people are forgetting about certain things in the past. Crawford even discussed: “A decline in tool…to betoken a shift in our mode of inhabiting the world: more passive and more dependent…people once made, they buy; and what they once fixed for themselves, they replace…hire an expert to repair, whose expert fix often involves installing a pre-made replacement part.” Which is absolutely true, in some aspects people don’t go in depth about manual work and how objects are made. Not only that, but they don’t even know how to make an object. They find it and just replace the last one they used. This effectively made me understood the author’s point he’s trying to make.


Crawford  points out that colleges and schools don’t touch on craftsmanship and trades.

Usually college is a place where students have the ability to focus on one thing that they are passionate about. Schools these days only focus on getting everything right to progress to the next level. So it’s interesting how Crawford see these things that pretty much poses a threat and the demise of craftsmanship and trades. He used evidence to back up his claim. “…schools, the manual trades are given little honor…tracking students into “college prep” and “vocational ed” is overlaid with another: the fear that acquiring a specific skill set means that one’s life is determined.”[pg.11] In this case, this is true, students are led to believe that being versatile in many skills will lead them to a better opportunity in the future. Instead of sticking to one skill, they need to take in as many skills to show that they can keep up. That is how schools use tests and lessons that don’t relate to the student’s future career paths. When in reality, they can learn how to cope with the necessary skills for their profession.  

The only thing that I felt like he was going on a tangent when he talked about the

There were some paragraphs where he’d add too much which can really lose the reader’s focus on his ideas and points he wants to make. It even made me get lost in some of his paragraphs and I barely understood what he was talking about. Especially, the mathematics instructions. Then used a quote that involves the cone and how to construct it, and he would explain the issues of crafting problems.  


Overall, Crawford makes some interesting points about the workforce and how observant he is when it comes to some of his experiences about his job. However, I thought I understood some of the things he said, however, I was completely wrong at first. The first time I read it, instantly I thought he was only talking about the loss of manual work  and its genuinity, but there was more to it. In the beginning of reading this text, I kept skimming through the text because it was boring. In some paragraphs it gave me insight on why he based his claims about manual work, and it wasn’t just about manual work but about blue collar vs. white collar.

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