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Throughout history, many people have the mindset that in order to achieve great things in life, one must work hard and get a degree in something practical in order to earn a good living. Manual workers that might have jobs in repair shops aren’t held to the same standards as “knowledge workers,” or people who earned a college degree. Matthew Crawford, author of “The Case for Working with Your Hands”, originally published in May 21, 2009 in the New York Times Magazine, and Mike Rose, author of “Blue-Collar Brilliance,” originally published in the Summer 2009 edition of the American Scholar, contradict the assumption that such work is not intellectually challenging through facts and first-hand experiences.
Typically, people who work at jobs that require manual labor, like sanitation workers or janitors, are looked down upon due to society refusing to portray them as people with power and money. In “The Case for Working with Your Hands,” Matthew Crawford argues that blue-collar jobs like mechanics make more or the same amount of money as most white-collar jobs. He also challenges the notion that sending kids off to college is really the best choice for them. Crawford explains the importance of the blue-collar worker in our society and how little we think of people if they do have a dirty job and work with their hands, giving a personal experience as an example. By switching careers to a manual worker, he explains how much more enjoying and personal this work can be compared to sitting in an office all day.
Blue-collar jobs are often called “necessity- jobs,” because they are shown as requirement jobs for the world. Crawford attempts to show the reader, “When we praise people who do work that is straightforwardly useful, the praise often betrays an assumption that they had no other options.” (Crawford 334) Since we tend to rely on these blue-collar workers to help get us through daily dilemmas that might happen, such as getting an oil change or fixing a broken toilet, these careers are thought of to be handier and more common among some people. Crawford states, “We idealize them as the salt of the earth and emphasize the sacrifice for others their work might entail.” (Crawford 334) If no one does these jobs, there would be many issues arising, showing that we are always going to need blue-collar workers in our society, maybe even more than white-collar workers in some cases.
The attention our society gives to white-collar jobs, emphasizing how important it is to become one of these cubicle-workers, pushes blue-collar jobs out of the spotlight making them nearly forgotten. People focus only on the most respected and high-class jobs, relying on the idea of education defining intelligence, resulting in blue-collar jobs disappearing from a list of possible careers people wish to pursue. Crawford explains, “In schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement. Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged…” (Crawford 334) He stresses that blue-collar jobs are the epitome of valuable work, work that is done with your hands and gives people the chance to use something other than just their brain. Crawford reinforces this idea when he writes, “A good job requires field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this” (Crawford 342) This states that in order for it to be considered valuable work, it must be work that comes from one’s hard effort, work, and skill that uses a different type of intelligence.
In Mike Rose’s essay, “Blue-Collar Brilliance,” he discusses what the every-day blue-collar American can accomplish given enough hard work and experience gained from learning on the job over many years. He discusses how people nowadays believe work requiring less schooling requires less intelligence. Rose then goes on to dispute this belief with a story of a man he knew that dropped out of high school his first year but goes on to become a supervisor at a General Motors plant, working his way up.
In today’s society, college is placed on a certain pedestal which deprives blue-collar workers from getting the same acknowledgment and opportunities as a college graduate. A blue-collar worker does not receive the same amount of respect as someone with a college degree, even though the person with no degree may have more knowledge than that of a college graduate. This is true for many blue-collar careers like construction, electricians, and agriculture related jobs. People may have spent their whole lives in these lines of work, but it is virtually impossible for them to move up the ladder without a college degree.

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