Professionalisation vs Craftsmanship

While studying on my next topic : the cathedral builders something stroke me.

How masons were structured in order to ensure they where well paid.

Basically masons were the first unionized jobs, and were making sure to keep the knowledge and practices in the realm of the corporation.

It may seems weird to speak of a single entity when actually the masters were in competitions for chantiers, and that deadly fights were common between masons.

The masons were putting a big stress on the fact a good workers was acknowledged by his tools, and mostly by his «oeuvre».

Being a mason as defined by my great father is «the art of building a straight wall». No more no less.

As if coding was the art of making «code that works», or being a musician «musics that gathers the crowd».

Being a mason in middle age required, first a learning requiring you to be an apprentice in sometimes multiple workshop, and then validated by a «chef d'oeuvre» (master piece) validating by making something innovating validating that you both mastered the practice and understand how to make your job evolve.

Karl Marx call these two aspect the doxa (knowledge) and the praxein (practice). His theory is the captation of the knowledge by the capitalists made it possible to also get the most of the added value.

A full fledged worker had both mastery in doing and making the best practice evolve in a peer to peer relationship without centralization.

Then on a «chantier», among the other «corps de m├ętier» masonry being the limiting factors for the others mason would often lead the coordination of the «chantier», being the first de facto architects.

Compared to our modern era, you see a «craftsman» so strong he does manage the project of building a cathedral.

If being a rockstar ninja mason has to be measured by the results, these cooperating lads where ninja masons.

So here is my scheme
Masons were both learning to learn, but also how to have a consistent future of executing, mastering, and managing teams...

Actually the working and learning looks like a lot what ISO 9001 formalize has Implementing Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance of his own work used to be the charge and the origin of a better pay for the workers. Acting being Doxein, Doing being Praxein.

Then, the industrial revolution came, and Napoleon and his successors introduced the modern school system.

Manufacturers were complaining especially in 1848 that craftsman were hard to manage: they had the knowledge, were skilled, but knowing how the value was made from the clothing they were disagreeing with the sharing of value, saying bad words such as they were robbed.

Worry not, the soldiers fired on them, their skills were studied and then taught at school. And, to prevent the craftsman to come back on the market, the only way to have the right to do your job was through the validation of a diploma.

Can a job, work, crafts be taught at school? Maybe, but bear in mind the first thing schools are teaching is a lot of knowledge in their one best way that cannot be reformed unless you chose to be a teacher without going to the working bench. Know-how -doxein- has been de facto stolen from the one who knows.

Innovation comes from making the practice evolves, nowadays, it is not the workers who are valued it is the company that is capturing the knowledge thanks to PhD, universities and funding.



The workers have all been literally emptied of the core value of their job: being able to craft, recognized for their work and making their practice evolve. They don't have a know-how that belongs to them, they just basically learn to follow orders.

Management have also removed the autonomy of the workers, while job announcement all search for these autonomous, flexible, able to make decision workers.

That's what the debate of professionalization vs craftsmanship is all about: who is valuable: the worker as a member of a company or as a member of a craftsman?

In my opinion doing a work of quality is learning the whole process, Doxa and Praxein cannot be separated.  

I am not a professional coder, I am a craftsman coder.



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