The East Vision

The value of real work

Lauren Vanden Bosch, Web Editor

How many of us students are guilty of shirking household tasks and maybe even employment in favor of devoting more time to studying for tests and doing homework? Probably the majority of us. It seems that in a college preparatory school environment that’s attempting to create “knowledge workers,” the value of work done by the hands versus work done by the mind is often downplayed. I think it’s important that we face reality and ask ourselves exactly how much we are losing by devoting less and less time to doing “real” work.

The truth is, we no longer value work that makes us dirty and sweaty, work that challenges us physically as well as mentally. I see that in my school as well as the middle/upper class neighborhood and community that surrounds it.

At East we no longer offer the traditional workshop classes. What remains is DDT, a worthy class but heavily computer-based. In our desire to upgrade to what we perceive to be 21st century skills we are in danger of leaving core fundamental (and still relevant in our day and age) skills behind. The world needs people who live in their heads, who are artists and thinkers and college professors, yes, but more than that it needs people willing to buckle down and actually work and get tasks done. The world needs people who are able to bring into reality a tangible product at the end of a day, a month, or a year.

What are we losing by not engaging in “real work?” I would argue that we are in fact losing a lot. We are losing an essential part of our humanity that’s been with us since the very beginning. Were our ancestors able to advance throughout history by sitting at a computer in a cubicle or at a desk in a school building? No. And yet we owe everything to their hard work. If we choose to divorce ourselves from their way of life and lose the skills and abilities which made us Earth’s most formidable creature in the first place, then unfortunately we may be at risk of forfeiting the modern human society which took us millennia to build.

Inspired by Matthew B. Crawford’s piece, “The Case for Working with Your Hands.”

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The value of real work