The Association of Intelligence and Status in Blue Collar Brilliance

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In his article Blue-Collar Brilliance, Mike Rose is an American professor who studies blue-collar work. Rose contradicts the argument that links intelligence with education and believes that intelligence is not associated with the grades and IQ results a person has received. Throughout his article, Rose gives many examples to support his claim, Rose described his mother Rosie and his uncle Joe as smart people,even though they both have not finished their high school education. During the 1950’s Rose and his father Tommy Rose waited for his mother Rosie to finish her shift as a waitress in one of the family restaurants in Los Angeles, Rose began to study their flow of work, the way they called out orders, the way they manage to hold five plates filled with food and two cups of coffee and the way they handle all types of customers from angry and needy to trouble makers and toddlers.

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Rosie had her own ways for dealing with customers, she used to memorize the orders and knew how long each order is going to take, she used to study the room to see which customer needs a refill, who had a complaint about the food, and the ones who needed extra emotional attention, her tip depended on how well she responded to these kinds of situations. Rosie did not stop there, she would put the emotional state of her co-workers into perspective as well. She would try to figure out if the cooks were in a bad mood and if so, how can she ask them to return an order. Since Rosie quit school during the seventh grade, the restaurant was a place where she learned new things each day, it gave her something that school never gave her.

Rose goes on to introduce Joe Meraglio, Rosies’ brother, Joe left school during ninth grade to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad, he then joined the navy, after that he decided to join his older brother at an auto shop where he spent 33 years of his life, Joe was a multi-tasker, he used to work at a very fast pace and found a way to remain unphased under pressure. As time passed, Joe became more knowledgeable about the auto industry he began to solve problems that no one could solve and with every promotion he began to find new problems to solve like the redesign of the nozzle on a paint sprayer to eliminate costly and unhealthy overspray. Joe did not learn about these machines in school but he had experience and adapted to their features. Joe learned management, he found a way to improve the flow of work and to relieve some of the stress on the workers by having two workers in a unit learning each other's jobs so they can rotate and get longer, more frequent breaks.

Rose had his fair share of problems during his educational journey, The school he attended mixed up his test scores with another student with the same surname. Rose was placed in a vocational education track upon entering high school. After a few years on the vocational education track, a teacher noticed that there was a mix up in Rose’s grades and had been misplaced in the vocational track, Rose began the following school year in the college prep track. His senior year English teacher, Jack McFarland, pushed Rose to reevaluate himself and helped him get admitted as a probationary student to Loyola University. This was a major turning point in Rose’s life. Rose went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University of Los Angeles and win a graduate fellowship in English at the University of California, Los Angeles. As time passed, Rose decided to take a break from academia and left graduate study to teach writing to underprivileged and underprepared students in Los Angeles. Rose then moved on to study the blue-collar workflow to try and understand how they obtain their knowledge and skill.

Rose emphasizes the importance of developing a routine and the management of tools in blue-collar work, he claims that a worker must understand how a tool works in different circumstances and that requires good judgment and creativity. Rose reminds us that every worker should be able to solve problems but in blue-collar work, the workers have to solve problems in a messy environment with a lot of social complexities. Rose also emphasizes the amount of teaching required in blue-collar work, he claims that their skills and routine were learned at some point and fully developed through trial and error.

Some people assume that mathematical skills are not required for blue-collar jobs but most blue-collar workers must be able to read numbers on tools and gauges and some are required to solve and check calculations. Reading is an integral part of blue-collar work as well, as workers are required to know how to read manuals, work orders, and forms. Rose urges us to appreciate all workers, he claims that if we judge a person's intelligence by a college degree or a test score we will continue to divide and not move forward.

My father was a blue-collar worker, he used to work at Domino’s pizza, he told me that some people would belittle him and assume he was a fool for working at a restaurant even his own family. So that is the reason I agree with Mike Rose we should not define a person's intelligence based on a piece of paper or a test result, by doing this we limit the true meaning of intelligence, we must be able to appreciate all jobs and to do that we must understand the importance of each job and the impact it has on our society. We all complete each other, the barista making your coffee so that you can be energized and have a productive day, the mailman that delivers your mail to your mailbox so that you won't have to drive to the post office every single day, and the car mechanics that will help you fix your car so you won't have to send it to the dealership and pay the price of a new car. If you still can’t appreciate all jobs whether its blue-collar or white-collar then you are not worthy of their services.

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