Thursday, March 29, 2018

Plumbing and Civilization

I'm not the first to expound on the tremendous value that plumbing brings to civilization. Nor to suggest that the improvement in public health is LARGELY due to those unsung, little-appreciated, and much derided workers known as plumbers.
As American activist John W. Gardner noted: “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because it is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”
Victor Hanson has written about the value of water from the perspective of a farmer (which, he is, in addition to his other job as a Classics Professor). He also wrote about the importance of understanding those who labor physically, and suggests several ways our society could increase their young people's knowledge of work, by having them spend some time working alongside those who do spend their days laboring with their bodies.

That's certainly one good idea - that college students might learn from having put their time in cleaning, repairing, and maintaining their campus.

Here's one other suggestion: ALL high school students must demonstrate their competence in some aspect of what used to be called "shop classes". They may either take a course in school, or learn on their own. But, they will be tested by professional tradespeople as to their knowledge. Their practical education will terminate in a completed project, which they will be expected to present to their examiners, answering any questions, as needed, to verify their own part in that experience.

Additionally, that examination would have some hands-on components:

  • find the shorted wire, and re-wire the circuit
  • pin the pattern on the material, cut it out, and sew the clothing
  • find the source of a plumbing leak, remove the damaged part, and put in a new section
  • identify and remedy the soil deficiencies, prepare the garden bed, and plant the seeds
This is important, not just for the student not going to college, but also for those who will. They need to develop a humble appreciation of the accomplishments of those without that expensive degree.

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