Thursday, November 08, 2012
Growing Up Dystechnic
Simon Fairlie, Growing Up Dystechnic
I emerged from the system able to scan iambic pentameters, recite chunks of Racine, write thousands of words on the military exploits of the Merovingian emperors and bowl a leg break, but unable to use a shovel properly, milk a cow, or recognize a carburettor.
But now, fifty years later, economic trends are conspiring to make dystechnia so prevalent that it is becoming dominant. The outsourcing of manufacturing, the replacement of hand tools by machines, the decline in the number of farmworkers, the proliferation of disposable and solid state machinery — all these, amongst other developments, have marginalised manual labour and made it economically obsolete.
By no means all, but a worrying proportion of, volunteers I meet in the course of my work are at the same level of manual competence as I when I left school — they have never been taught how to wield a hammer, how to dig a trench, how to sharpen a knife, how to use a file or how to tie a knot.