Mike Rowlett


English 1010

4 August 2017

This is a comparison of the articles, ‘Blue-Collar Brilliance’ By Mike Rose and ‘Shop Class as

Soulcraft’ By Matthew B. Crawford. In Blue-Collar Brilliance, Rose set out to prove that you do

need, and often find, intelligence in blue collar workers and jobs. As someone who grew up

close to many family members in those jobs and now on the outside looking in he writes to the

rest of the community to convince us it’s not as easy as society sets it out to be. In Shop Class,

Crawford stresses the need for manual competence, and explains how it is becoming a lost art.

Competence being a learned skill, he shows how the choices in schooling curriculum and lack of

job skill requirements has set its value next to nothing. His audience is his colleagues and

people familiar with the concepts and who might take notice and can provide advice to younger

people who might have never seen the skill in action.

Rose and Crawford used different rhetorical strategies to connect with their audiences. While

they both used some storytelling to reach the audience, Rose’s use of it was more mainstream

and throughout and the basis of where he created his evidence about blue collar workers. He

also used an arrangement of ideas that created harmony with the audience the introduced his

opposing view. Crawford’s use of empirical evidence was necessary for him to create value for

argument of how we are losing our manual competence.

Both authors use storytelling to make their points. Rose’s story about his mother and

watressing panted a picture of a job with challenges and difficult to manage as “she walked full

tilt the room(Rose)”. He was able to show it wasn’t a job for the unorganized or weak-minded

when she would take out, pick up and place orders all the while remembering, “who had the

hamburger…fried shrimp, almost always getting it right (Rose).” The imagery painted for this

audience is strong and unique for only one blue collar job but it allows the reader to relate on a

more personal level with the author and in turn making him more believable. Another story

Rose shared about his uncle helped the reader understand his schooling took place on the job

and sometimes that the best or only kind. His uncle “became a consummate multi-tasker

(Rose)” and among other problems was still able to “maintain a cool head under the pressure of

grueling production schedules (Rose).” This method was very effective showing that formal

schooling probably wouldn’t be much help in this situation and only on the job training could

prepare someone to do this job well.

Crawford relayed a story from his childhood working as an electrician’s helper. He talked of the

experience of finishing a job and the feeling he would get when he “[flipped] the switch.” He

took pleasure knowing that it was a job well done and his “work [was] visible for all to see, so

my competence was real for others as well (Crawford).” That satisfaction you get when

someone complements you on your lawn, or a car rebuild. This works well in this case as many

of his audience could remember experiences like that from their younger years. It also builds

the idea it was craft that was from the past. Something not being done today.

Another Strategy used by Rose and I found throughout his writing was the Arrangement of

ideas. He would start an idea with a statement that would usually be agreed upon by the

general population and finish with a statement that doesn’t support the first. By using this style,

he is trying to state that either the first is flawed or that the second, meaning blue collar jobs,

can’t be compared the same way.

“Although we rightly acknowledge and amply compensate the play of mind in white-collar and

professional work, we diminish or erase it in considerations about other endeavors—physical

and service work particularly. We also often ignore the experience of everyday work in

administrative deliberations and policymaking.” (Rose)

He almost agrees halfheartedly by using a word like “although” because he follows up his first

statement by saying others don’t receive the same courtesy. This draws the audience making

the idea comfortable and agreeable to them and what they understand to be the norm then

every so subtly says, your wrong because look at what you’re missing by thinking that way.

The next example of arrangement of ideas he first agrees that opposing view is correct but then

shifts it to say that its overlooking the true intelligence from blue collar jobs.

“True, many uses of writing are abbreviated, routine, and repetitive, and they infrequently

require interpretation or analysis. But analytic moments can be part of routine activities, and

seemingly basic reading and writing can be cognitively rich. Because workplace language is used

in the flow of other activities, we can overlook the remarkable coordination of words, numbers,

and drawings required to initiate and direct action.” (Rose)

This is often used when writers don’t have a foundation to support a rebuttal. They deflect. It’s

very effective and in this instance, it helps the reader to see deeper into the problem. The key

word here is “overlook”. By focusing on the main idea, we are missing out on the thoughts that

should be the main idea.

Rose created credibility with the audience through this sense of being agreeable and was able

to make claim after claim. Crawford had a more difficult time getting to the point in his article.

He needed more time to create a foundation for his argument. As such he took the opportunity

to use Empirical Evidence as a strategy.

Crawford set up his argument with idea and claims but when it came time to finally show how it

was all true he used the Smith-Hughes act of 1917 as evidence. This act provided “federal

funding for manual training… destroying the old work ethic (Crawford)” He feels the system has

lost touch with manual competence the key factors started to disappear because of the Smiths-

Hughes act. This is a defining moment in the article. The data and example of where the system

when wrong have mostly been revealed to the reader. The creation of the assembly line played

a lot into the problem and so by using this act as proof it allows the audience closure to why it

happened and the reason for the loss of efficient and self-respecting workers.

Each author had a sense of how they could effectively reach they audience through their

rhetorical strategies. Rose’s stories allowed the reader a personal view into the blue-collar lives

while the way he arranged his ideas created even more comfort with the audience. Crawford’s

use of empirical data helps his more professional audience to be convinced with the argument

at hand. Both used methods that were successful for each.

Works Cited

Crawford, Matthew B. "Shop class as soulcraft." (2006): n. p. The New Atlantis. Web.


Rose, Mike. "Blue-Collar Brilliance." The American Scholar. N.p., 18 Sept. 2012. Web.


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