Response to FutureEd Articles

In his article, “Shop Class as Soulcraft,” Matthew B. Crawford argues on the importance of manual competence and practical skills. Crawford cultivates appreciation of occupations, such as plumber, carpenter and mechanic, for he views them as the way of subjective self-determination in our objective world. Moreover, he dispels false assumptions that laborious work means thoughtless through examples from the past, and telling his own experience of working as an electrician and mechanic which required a lot of critical thinking and practical knowledge. Going deep into sophisticated Marxist’s concepts, and simple psychological aspects of human’s life, he emphasises the significance of “learning through doing” over critiquing and assuming. This, in turn, appeals to Nathan Heller’s article, “Laptop U,” the main question of which is – are such tools as MOOCs going to improve the education or cause it to degrade? Therefore, since MOOCs is a completely virtual way of acquiring knowledge, it diminishes the opportunity for students to acquire practical skills which are crucial, in terms of becoming a  professional. At this point, M.B. Crawford’s article appears to have a negative view on this debate.

The role of technology in this discussion seems to be controversial. On the one hand, it provides educational institutions a “democratic reach,”  solving problems of affordability and accessibility. It also creates an opportunity for for-profit MOOC-developing companies to make a fair amount of money for programming this new system. However, given that through implying MOOCs all around the country, courses’ materials will be centralized in Harvard and elsewhere, it’s reasonable to assume that the education itself will start degrading instantaneously. It’s not enough to re-interpret dust-covered books of Harvard’s library, although extraordinarily informative, to make students real professionals in their fields. It takes critical and creative thinking, labs and practice.


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