Skilled Hands and Thinking Minds: Craft and the Humanities

Presented by Christopher Johnson.

Our society tends to divide work into neat categories. There is, for example, the work of the mind, and the work of hands. Universities are thought to prepare students for the former, technical colleges for the latter. This talk will explore the shortcomings of this type of thinking. Drawing on the experiences of teaching a university course that included woodworking, the speaker will explore the hidden intellectual content of labor-intensive work and suggest the benefits of breaking down distinctions that are both obsolete and inaccurate. Humanities teachers, the paper will show, can play an important role in helping students learn to appreciate and value skills that too often go unnoticed.

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