I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I read a recent article stating that many schools across the country no longer offer “shop” classes. Ken Robinson, Ph.D, wrote in ” Creative Schools, The Element, Finding Your Element, and Out of Our Minds” that vocational programs like shop class have been on the decline in the last decade because of emphasis on improving standardized test scores, not skills.
He says: “The work of electricians, builders, plumbers, chefs, paramedics, carpenters, mechanics, engineers, security staff, and all the rest is absolutely vital to the quality of each of our lives,” he wrote. “Yet the demands of academic testing mean that schools often aren’t able to focus on these other capabilities at all.”
This is truly sad. I remember I first got to take shop classes in junior high. The first class I had was Wood Shop.
I loved Wood Shop. I think we made a pencil holder as our first project. I also made a key rack, and a couple other pieces. I never went to competitions like some of the students did, though. They made beautiful clocks and cabinets. I was satisfied with my key rack. I loved working with the lathe, the saws, sanders, and stains. I will forever remember the smell of the woodshop.
The next semester I had Metal Shop.
Metal Shop was OK, but I didn’t like it as much as Wood Shop. I remember we made a screwdriver, a metal box, and a candle stick holder as our projects. We got to pick what our final project was and I made a shoe horn for my grandpa. For the candle holder, we had to stick the metal in a forge and then beat/shape it with a hammer. I stood too close to the forge and singed my eyebrows!!
It really wasn’t a shop class, but the next elective we had was drafting.
This class was difficult for me. First of all, my handwriting sucked, and I could never get my letters to look like they wanted them. I also never seemed to be able to get my drawings to look right. Maybe I just didn’t grasp it. I don’t know. I enjoyed TRYING to draw the projects we had, but struggled.
Today, almost all drafting is done on computers. I am guessing this class would have been a whole lot easier that way.
I never took basic electricity or auto shop. Believe me, I wish I had. Lord knows the money I could have saved by fixing my own cars!
I wish schools would bring back these types of classes, along with more of the fine arts stuff (band, choir, art, drama). These classes might just be the thing that exposes students to a trade that they find interesting or a talent that they excel in.