The following quote came to mind as I worked my way through editing this post on Caleb Logan's Senior Thesis.
“A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.”
― Louis Nizer
Caleb focussed his research on the value of work, a subject that has deep roots in our Christian faith and coincides with the Clapham philosophy of approaching work with diligence and joy. Take a look at this preview of his work.
The Lost Art of Handcraft: An Analysis of Modern Work and Our Perception of It
by Caleb Logan
Question: What is your thesis about?
Caleb: My thesis is about how American society views and evaluates work. I work as a student at Clapham, an artisan when woodworking, a manual laborer as a plumber at OneStop Pro, and planner, scheduler, and problem solver at OneStop Pro where I work on their website. All this exposure to work has given me a unique perspective on work and ignited a curiosity about how other people view work.
Question: How did you narrow down your topic?
Caleb: After sifting through various ideas, I narrowed down a general theme for my thesis. Next, I refined a specific thesis through writing, researching, and reflecting on the purpose of this paper. Needless to say, my thesis took several turns and went through several drafts during this process.
Question: What was the hardest part of writing your thesis?
Caleb: The hardest part of writing my thesis was editing. I began by just writing as my thoughts came to me - at times without the proper research. When it came time to edit my work, I found that some sections I wrote didn’t fit or lacked the necessary research. This oversight forced me to cut those sections.
Question: What surprised you most about the process or the findings?
Caleb: One interesting finding I came across, while researching specific evidence to prove that people opt for white-collar jobs over blue-collar jobs, was a recent article stating that there is already a shift towards trade-oriented jobs over white-collar desk jobs.
Question: What resource was most helpful or made the most significant impact on your research or conclusion?
Caleb: I studied books on the philosophy of work and our human purpose, but I especially enjoyed Drive by Daniel H. Pink.
Question: How will your findings impact your life personally?
Caleb: This thesis is based on both pragmatism and philosophical arguments. I have learned that work can be 'deep' on even a spiritual level, and that is most important. Moreover, when I began my thesis, I did not foresee my paper going in this direction.
Question: How does faith inform your conclusion?
Caleb: My conclusion is based on the works of several prominent Christians such as Martin Luther, St. Benedict, and of course, the Bible. Work, interestingly, is something that God established in paradise, and therefore, I believe work does have a spiritual element to it, which should not be ignored.
Question: How did you experience the process of writing the thesis?
Caleb: Writing the thesis was the easy part. Editing, researching, and revising was the difficult part. The experience was a challenge; I was constantly moving towards making a paper of my own that I could be proud of. Similar to woodworking, the process is slow, at times tedious and stressful. Still, with patience and focus, I can turn something mediocre and plain like a log into something creative and practical like a side table. In the same way, I learned that I could turn abstract thoughts and ideas into a logical and coherent argument.
This table took me a year to complete by working on it once a week.
Question: How are you preparing for the defense?
Caleb: I attempt to address potential critiques in the paper itself. Mr. Barney has raised several likely questions that would challenge my paper. Each question has helped me by either making me revise my argument or, more often than not, add helpful clarification to address those critiques. Lastly, I have tried to support my claims with evidence I can refer to when other questions arise.
Question: What advice do you have for next year's seniors?
Caleb: Find an issue you’re passionate about, something personal, and outline your paper with research, before you start writing. Then stick to the outline, change the outline if you must, but without the outline and research, the writing process unravels quickly.
Question: The social distancing mandated by the COVID-19 response has changed the way we have traditionally defended our theses. Did this cause you to adjust your delivery of your defense at all?
Caleb has attended Clapham since the 4th grade. When he isn't in school, Caleb works part-time at a Wheaton trades company, Onestop Pro. On weekends he enjoys woodworking, and recently—since the mandated social distancing—he has been gaming competitively with his father in several strategy board games.
Caleb plans to attend a gap year program, called Compass, held at a camp in Wisconsin called Expeditions Unlimited. He will endeavor to learn several essential life skills ranging from filing taxes to car maintenance, taking several theology classes, and going on both missions and adventure trips (Don't worry, Adam! They're separate...). Following the gap year, Caleb has no concrete plans but hopes to find a good college where he can sharpen his mind.