Ray and Alex came to install the new sink and faucet the other day. I watched as they figured out what went where and worked out all the kinks in a job that looked incomprehensible to me. These are the same men, remember, who moved a wall, rebuilt a closet, put up crown molding and baseboard that they also stained, helped lay tile, installed lights, added a full-length window by the door, put up the corbels and capitals; in short, anything that needed to be done. And they knew how to do it all. Like magic. I never cease to be amazed at people who know how to build things and do stuff like that.
Then I thought of Chase who had all the redecorating ideas and did the painting and finish work. He, too, knew all the steps and procedures to do a professional job. I remembered Israel and his helpers who laid the tile.
All of these young men do quality work, are in great demand around here, and they need never be out of a job unless they choose to be. Which begs the question: why are we trying to send every kid to college when we have a real need for skilled carpenters, plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, painters, mechanics, you name it. And we have plenty of kids who would love to work at jobs like that, would enjoy the satisfaction of a well-finished product, and could make a nice living doing it.
I started to get on my soap box about the need for more vocational training and two-year technical colleges for a variety of other hands-on careers, which we do need, but I realized what I really wanted to say is that somewhere along the way we have devalued what used to be called manual labor blue-collar jobs and instead made kids think they should all be college graduates with white-collar jobs. I am all for a liberal education in the old sense; a college education broadens one’s horizons and offers new worlds and experiences. But we have a passel of kids out there who would much rather be working with their hands creating something than holding a book in their hands, and we have done them a disservice to make them think that the trades are somehow second-class jobs. All I have to do is look at my updated and beautiful home to know that the world needs those kinds of skilled professionals along with the white-collar workers.
Our society needs all kinds of people to fill all kinds of jobs. All work that is honest and well-done is valuable and necessary and deserves to be respected. I used to tell my students that whatever job they chose to do, to perform it in the very best way they can. Be they a doctor or a ditch-digger, be the very best doctor or ditch-digger they can be. Take pride in what they do.
I used to have a poster in my classroom, now in my barn/greenhouse, of Will Rogers that quotes him as saying “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” Which means then, that everybody is smart, only on different subjects. I know how to teach English. I am glad Chase and Ray and Alex know how to work on houses.
Thanks, guys. Everything looks beautiful.