Tag Archives: technical challenge

Value of Labor

Labor-Day

Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands. We are born makers, and creativity is the ultimate act of integration – it is how we fold our experiences into our being…

From Brain Pickings


“Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.” 
Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea


Being retired I don’t pay much attention to three day weekends anymore. When I was working as a teacher I had a love/hate relationship Labor Day. Labor day is the cultural end of the lazy summer for most Americans. We are heading into fall to gather the fruits of one’s labor from the fields , begin a new school year or start the panic before the holiday season.   Congress recognized Labor Day as a national holiday in 1894 as a celebration of the contribution of citizens who worked with their hands .

Our culture’s assigned value of physical labor has taken a serious downturn. It is the person who uses intellectual skills who get’s the attention.  Mark Zuckerberg is our nation’s golden child while Americans no longer have the skills or the desire harvest their own food. Our laborers as at the bottom rung of the social hierarchy.

In my working years I struggled to get degree’s which allowed me to move away from physical labor, but now that I have left the workforce I am embracing the value of physical labor. My life is much richer and my mind is keener because I work with my hands.

I spent great deal of time during the completion of my latest quilt, to work out a problem with thread tension.  Like my fellow readers in the art quilt world I have to pull threads from bobbins, adjust my machine speed, find solutions online and thumbing through the manual.  The process takes time, requires small and large motor skill.  Through the frustration of detangling threads I  am increasing my level of skill and knowledge by working through a problem.

Stranger in a Strange Land_full

Stranger in a Strange Land 35×35

Just like any tradesman, I need to fully understand my equipment . My production schedule is tied to how well my tools are working. I need to be able to independently fix my equipment, or modify my process to make a physical object.  Once I have solved the technical issue, that knowledge becomes tangible. The reward of working in a medium that requires its’ artists to overcome technical challenges is constant learning.


Do an internet search for problem solving and you will find thousands of current references from educational entities about the value of problem solving in the learning process. The American Association of Colleges and Universities  defines problem solving as a process of designing, evaluating and implementing a strategy to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

I think these academic experts missed what was obvious to the Asaro Tribe. Include the physical self in process of problem solving if you want to cement the knowledge.


 As a retired person, I run into people who rarely challenge themselves to learn a new skill, or to work through a problem that requires labor. They hire someone to fix watering system or abandon their latest hobby because it wasn’t working out. Maybe it’s because it’s easier to avoid frustration with a few dollars, but I think the educational value is in the frustration. Frustration-Quote

Until next time…..

Margaret