“I grew up a witness,” Mike Rose writes, “to the intelligence of the waitress in motion, the reflective welder, the strategy of the guy on the assembly line. This then is something I know: the thought it takes to do physical work.” In all our debates about standardized testing and the information economy, the value of learning to work and the future of liberal arts education, we may risk too narrow a view of the way the physical, the human, and the intellectual blend in all kinds of learning and in all work that matters. Mike Rose’s expansive wisdom could enlarge our civic imagination on big subjects at the heart of who we are — schooling, social class, and the deepest meaning of vocation.
is a research professor in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. He’s the author of several books, including The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker, Why School?: Reclaiming Education for All of Us, and more recently Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education.