I didn’t take shop class. Well not that I remember anyway, I do recall in junior high there was a cycle of classes, “home ec”, ceramics, maybe there was a shop class. I did take multiple years of drafting, which I translated as architectural prep school, but I certainly didn’t take shop class in high school. I was college bound. Oh the irony that I had to go to college to be taught lessons that placed high value on what shop class could have offered me.
The truth is that I didn’t really completely understand the values until I started teaching others to design things. Making things is a process, usually with some degree of complexity that has to be managed and with decisions of value to be made. Driving a process, managing complexity, controlling systems, analyzing results and weighing them against criteria. Developing these skills would certainly benefit anyone’s future. Not to mention that when you make something you are putting yourself out there, in that object. You’re responsible for it. You establish the level of craftsmanship, hopefully as high as your abilities allow. Craftsmanship is a concept that transcends the wood shop. Computer programmer, business analyst, project manager, scientist, lawyer, or furniture maker, they are all practicing their craft(s) and we are in some way always evaluating their craftsmanship. Unfortunately for many this reality isn’t considered, understood or valued.
We’ve heard the cries and cried ourselves that shop class had been dying. Knowing now how valuable it is both for preparing a better vocational future for our country but also for preparing better people in general for our country. Fortunately with programs like Bit Space, and increased attention and re-ignition within our school systems, we can bring back these important lessons and values and now in an even better more future minded way. And the good news is that we’re not alone in this thinking, check out these links to read more about this topic
The High Tech Return of High School Shop Class – CNN
Techshop inside, is a Modern Shop Class on Wheels – Engadget
Shop Class Deserves Prominent Role in Schools – Treehugger
Lessons in Manhood: A Boy’s School Turns Work Into Wonder – NPR
America Should Bring Back Shop Class: To Educate and Inspire – bigthink.com
The Death of Shop Class and America’s High Skilled Workforce – Forbes
Shop Class is Dead, Long Live Advanced Manufacturing Class – liveworkoakland.com