Shop Class as Soulcraft

The New York Times Magazine ran an excerpt from Matthew B. Crawford's new book, Shop Class as Soul Craft. Crawford has a Ph.D. in political philosophy. He owns and operates a motorcycle repair shop.

His book is about the the importance of using your hands to make and repair things. He compares the kind of life many people in developed countries lead — inside cubicles, working on things that are several levels removed from the physical world — to a life of skilled labor that requires ingenuity and experience, and provides the kinds of challenges that human beings were made to relish.

I'm writing a book about the rewards of DIY, and Crawford's book really resonated with me.


A gifted young person who chooses to become a mechanic rather than to accumulate academic credentials is viewed as eccentric, if not self-destructive. There is a pervasive anxiety among parents that there is only one track to success for their children. It runs through a series of gates controlled by prestigious institutions. Further, there is wide use of drugs to medicate boys, especially, against their natural tendency toward action, the better to "keep things on track." I taught briefly in a public high school and would have loved to have set up a Ritalin fogger in my classroom. It is a rare person, male or female, who is naturally inclined to sit still for 17 years in school, and then indefinitely at work.

Shop Class as Soul Craft