This is an essay that appeared in yesterday's NYT magazine. It's adapted from a book that is about to come out called “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work,” by Matthew Crawford, which Michael Agger at Slate.com essentially said is the best self-help book like ever. Agger said that b/c it's much more about the self than the help. It's a first-person personal story rather than page-after-page of lists of shitty, quippy, clichéd advice that reads like stereo instructions with steps and journaling pages. (The worst book I ever bought was There's a Hole in My Sidewalk. Crappy self-help that had a cool blue-and-yellow color scheme and playful art direction that attracted me.)
Crawford has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, but has found that true human value has come from his work as a motorcycle mechanic. I cannot recommend this essay enough and I am so ready to read this book. Not because I have the empty spot in my soul and have uncalloused hands (though I do have the latter), but because from what I've read, he's a damned good rider telling a great story that just happens to share something. (I'm actually beyond lucky and I have a job with tangible accomplishments.)
It's honestly everything that I'd hope my students would aspire to when they write for L.A. Youth. It's using the personal to impart just a bit of what one has learned and perhaps hoping that the reader interprets what was learned as wisdom?
In the, yes it's 2009 department ... Here's an amazing audio/photo essay on NYTimes.com about a high school in rural Georgia that has separate proms for the black and white students. The white students interviewed say that "it's tradition" and "no one really minds, b/c we're all friends in school" while the black students interviewed see the obvious inequality and regret and lament that they cannot spend such a significant night with their best friends.