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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

The Forgotten Blue-Collar Work

In modern society getting an education means everything. From going to grade school up to getting a degree from a university, the world has determined that book learning should be on the top of our priorities. However, there is a forgotten asset that many of us to no fault of our own have seemed to misplace. That is the true value of Blue-Collar work. Mike Rose, and Mathew Crawford dive into this forgotten asset that can come from learning a trade. In “Blue-Collar Brilliance” by Mike Rose he writes that there is true intelligence that can be found in blue-collar work, while Mathew Crawford argues that contrary to modern beliefs, many things can be learned from blue-collar work. Both very similar in purpose but directed at different audiences. Rose sets out to convince the minds of a broader audience, while Crawford tries to reach the more technical community. Both men succeed in convincing their readers of the importance of blue-collar work however, while Crawford’s argument is more sound overall with evidence to support his claim, he doesn’t succeed to the degree of Rose with the way he is able to relate, and empathize with whomever reads his piece.

Both authors deserve the attention of their readers, with their many years of expertise with the chosen topic. Crawford’s experience comes from the personal satisfaction that he felt as he worked as a Motorcycle mechanic, exploring the vast many things that he learned while doing this line of work. Crawford also expands on the fact that experience means everything by stating “Lack of experience diminishes our power of taking a comprehensive view of the admitted facts” (Crawford 5). He also goes on to talk about how this has helped him develop skills in both blue and white-collar work. “Following graduate school in Chicago, I took a job in a Washington, D.C. think tank. I hated it, so I left and opened a motorcycle repair shop in Richmond….. while the filth and odors were apparent, [from the shop] the amount of head-scratching I’d done since breakfast was not” (Crawford 6). Crawford proves that he is skilled in both lines of work. Anyone who reads this will see that. However, while his logic makes complete sense. The story lacks a personal quality to it that would help readers to put themselves in Crawford’s shoes.

Is Crawford’s argument logically sound? Yes, by all means. The difference between the two authors is Rose’s ability to relate on a personal level with the reader. While Rose never states that he worked in a blue-collar job, he grew up in a blue-collar world. Rose tells stories of himself as a young boy growing up while his parents went out to work. First off, anyone can relate to growing up, and many of us relate to growing up with both parents working. Rose describes while growing up he would often spend time with his mother who worked as a waitress. “I couldn’t have put it in words when I was growing up, but what I observed in my mother’s restaurant defined the world of adults, a place where competence was synonymous with physical work. A waitress acquires knowledge and intuition about the ways and the rhythms of the restaurant business. Waiting on seven to nine tables, each with two to six customers, Rosie devised memory strategies so that she could remember who ordered what” (Rose 1). Everyone has a story about themselves growing up. Rose’s argument does make sense; however, it is much more appealing to the reader as it brings us all back to our childhoods.

One of the biggest things that Rose lacks is the use of empirical evidence to satisfy the logos side of the reader. While in the meantime Crawford excels in his effort to show the importance of blue-collar work in this aspect. “New and yet not so new — for fifty years now we’ve been assured that we are headed for a “post-industrial economy.” While manufacturing jobs have certainly left our shores to a disturbing degree, the manual trades have not” (Crawford 4). By this statement alone many of us can see that life is changing. Technology is changing the world, especially our careers. White-collar work is slowly being taken over by technology while on the other hand blue-collar work is always going to be around. To many, after much thought and analyzation this would make sense, but does it make sense to you right away? To many people the way that Crawford writes would be boring and useless information. We live in a fast-paced world that needs to have their needs satisfied quicker. All marketers know that in order to catch someone’s attention you have to find ways that relate to the audience.

While Rose does lack in empirical evidence, he goes on to succeed to a great degree in grabbing the attention of any who read his piece. Once again, his biggest accomplishment, very similar to the story of his mother, to accomplish the successfulness of his writing is his way to relate stories in his life to the reader. Rose shares a story of his uncle who despite dropping out of school in Junior High, was able to become very successful in his line of blue-collar work at a railroad company and General Motors. Joe was able to work his way up in the company with his problem-solving skills that he developed over the time that he worked there. “Joe initiated the redesign of the nozzle on a paint sprayer, thereby eliminating costly and unhealthy overspray. And he found a way to reduce energy costs on the baking ovens without affecting the quality of the paint. He lacked formal knowledge of how the machines under his supervision worked, but he had direct experience with them, hands-on knowledge, and was savvy about their quirks and operational capabilities. He could experiment with them” (Rose 2-3). When we read a personal story, it is much more likely to appeal to the reader. The reader may think to themselves “If he can do it, I can do it as well!” It creates much more of a hook for the reader to actually act upon the content of what is being read. After all, the whole purpose of any authors writing is for the reader to then do something about it. The author wants to reach as many people as possible.

Crawford and Rose have two very different styles of writing. Crawford does an excellent job at proving that many things can be learned from blue-collar work, through his own personal experience and use of evidence. No one can deny that his argument makes sense and that it would impact the reader in some way.  Rose on the other hand while lacking evidence succeeds greatly in provoking the reader into action, helping them to think to themselves “What can I now go and learn from blue-collar work?” He does this through his brilliant use of story telling to relate to the personal life of the reader. From this we can all know there is much more of a need to engage ourselves in blue-collar work.

Works Cited

Crawford, Mathew B. “Shop Class as Soulcraft.” The New Atlantis, Summer 2006, https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/shop-class-as-soulcraft. Accessed 25 September 2018

Rose, Mike. “Blue-Collar Brilliance.” The American Scholar, 1 June 2009, https://theamericanscholar.org/blue-collar-brilliance/#.W9c1LmhKjIU. Accessed 24 September 2018

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