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Blue-Collar Brilliance Essay

Blue collar workers are the backbone of America. In the article, “Blue-Collar Brilliance”, author Mike Rose emphasizes his belief that blue collar jobs should not be viewed as mindless tasks, but rather should be acknowledged for the amount of skills and intelligence these tasks truly require. What the author essentially means is that blue collar workers acquire knowledge, intuition, and skills from the social dynamics of their workplace itself. Rose argues that we often make mistakes by judging people based on their level of education and thereby not giving them the recognition they deserve. Through observation, trial and error, and often physical and verbal assistance from others, blue collar workers develop their skills. “Blue-Collar Brilliance” is an article that makes us realize that formal education does not always measure the level of intelligence of a person.

Blue Collar jobs require just as much intelligence as jobs that require formal academic credentials (e.g. a College Diploma) and hence should be recognized for their work. In the article, “Blue-Collar Brilliance”, Mike Rose disagrees with the assumption that “Intelligence is closely associated with formal education” (Mike, 247). Although the aforesaid assumption has been absorbed throughout history, Rose believes that more readings occur in the blue collar workplace than what society gives credit for. I agree with Mike Rose when he argues that although society often defines one’s IQ based on school grades, blue-collar workers develop intelligence and skills in workplace through proper planning, problem solving, and social interactions.

Most blue collar Mehreen jobs are constantly faced with new problems every day, in the midst of grueling schedules, that demand instant resolution. Blue collar workers acquire intelligence, wisdom, and skills from the technological and social dynamics of their workplace. In the article, Mike Rose supports this view by describing what he learned as a child observing how his mother was shaping her identity as a waitress in the coffee and family shops. Since then he came to realize that his mother’s work required both mental and physical strengths. In the midst of grueling work schedule, Mike’s mother learned not only how to work fast but smart as well. She acquired her knowledge and skills by studying human behavior. In her busy work schedules, she memorized tactfully who ordered what by devising mental strategies.

Besides working as a waitress, Mike’s mother constantly tried to understand the psychology of her customers in an effort to provide customized services to meet their specific needs. Her experience reminds me of the time when I worked as a sales representative at an AT&T retail store in Alabama. The thought processes involved in my work was very similar to the work that Mike’s mother did. Like Mike’s mom, I devised my own mental strategy to respond to customer queries and concerns more effectively in order to satisfy demands.

I often made decisions on whether or not to sell a product by observing, understanding, and interpreting the behavior of the customers. In the article, the author emphasizes that most blue color jobs require significant amount of judgment and reading than white color jobs. The author supports his views by saying, “Carpenters have an eye for length, line, and angle; mechanics troubleshoot by listening; hair stylists are attuned to shape, texture, and motion” (Mike, 251). Mike argues that the use of a tool requires motor skills to perform, because a person needs to know the main purpose of the tool for a particular situation. By working with a tool for a long period of time, the worker becomes attuned to every aspects of the environment that enhances knowledge and perception of the job at hand. As a result, workers get more trained and disciplined. In the routine tasks of most blue collar jobs, reading is integral to workers to understand production quotas, and learn how to use an instrument.

Although formal education is important, but learning how to use those skills is more important. I agree with Mike Rose’s perception of how modern day society is often reluctant to bestow upon the blue collar workers the recognition they deserve. However, I’m a strong proponent of availing every human being, regardless of their race, gender, or social status, the access to a decent education. I support the author’s claim that people should not be judged only by the kind of work they do. While most white collar workers have higher levels of education as compared to their blue collar counterparts, they may not necessarily be more intelligent or savvy at the jobs they perform on a day to day basis.

Mike is not saying that education is not important but he argues that many of the tools to become successful in the work place become routine with observation and trial and error. Education is still a very important tool but learning how to manipulate that tool and use the skills learned in the working environment to make plans and solve problems is more crucial for success. Although formal education is important, the skills and wisdom we acquire through direct experience in life are the true indicators of how intelligent a person is. Blue collar workers should be acknowledged for the work they do because they demand the same level of intelligence as jobs that require academic credentials.

They perform routine tasks in the midst of difficult work schedules by reading and making proper judgment, which affects the ways they  perform their work. Regardless of the fact that most white collar workers are more educated as compared to their blue collar counterparts, they are not necessarily more intelligent at the jobs they perform. The skills which we develop through formal education are important tools but knowing how to apply those tools in real life circumstance are more important. Through social interactions, observations, and trial and error, blue collar workers learn how to successfully accomplish their tasks every day.

Works Cited

Graff, Gerald, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel K. Durst. “Blue Collar Brilliance.” “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. Print.


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