Sign of the times

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Today we had a small job to do for a local suburban school district. The job was to build a desk around three sides of a 14' x14' room. Not too difficult but since it was 9 degrees this morning and we had no place at the site to work, the school board let us use the former industrial arts building (a couple of blocks away) to set up our equipment. The building brought back 35 year old memories of shop class. This was a big old building, I'm guessing 60' x200' with the old dust collection system hanging in pieces everywhere. About half the lights were on which gave it an eerie haunted feeling. There was a narrow balcony with old wood racks now filled with cob webs over about a third of the length of the place. Most of the floor space was covered with assorted school crap like folding chairs stage risers and about anything else that would go in the place. Not many machines left, a huge drill press, and old metal lathe, an 18" Rockwell planer, and an old green Powermatic table saw with no fence system or motor. A 25' finishing bench was still there with the skeletons of exhaust ports hanging from the tall ceiling every 4' or so. You could just imagine a line of kids standing there sanding on the same shop project.
The sad part about it was that although this was once one hell of a shop, there is no longer an industrial arts curriculum at the school district. As with many school districts, I guess costs, insurance and policies that lean more toward college prep, have rendered the building (as well as the classes it once housed) obsolete. While I never thought my three fingered shop teacher ever taught me much that applied to the real world, I always enjoyed the classes and it just seems to me to be something else that kids today will miss out on. Another sign of the times.......
Mike O.
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Mike O. wrote:

That's really a shame. I will admit that when I went to High School, I concentrated mostly upon college prep courses because I knew I wanted to be an Engineer. However, I did get to take welding and auto shop classes. When I got to college, I really wished I had the chance to take drafting as well. That said, college is not for everyone and the shop classes served as great a function of preparing students for the real world as college prep classes served to prepare those bound for college. Trying to fit everyone into the college track mold does no one any favors.
Are the classes that used to be taught in high school shops now being taught in community and vocational tech schools?
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On Mon, 22 Dec 2008 21:32:57 -0700, Mark & Juanita

In this area we have a lot of aircraft manufacturing. With the support of both the community and local business there is a pretty serious effort made toward improving vocational training related to that type of manufacturing.
Mike O.
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Mike O. wrote:

That is a good thing partially. One downside to waiting until that late to introduce students to shop principles is that by that time, students are pretty well embarked on the direction they intend to go. The advantage to teaching at the high school and junior high level is that it gives all students and opportunity to get some familiarity with equipment and tools. That can develop into a life-long appreciation for the manual arts, even if one is not making a living in that field.
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I believe every person who goes through school should have a basic introduction to the use and safety of basic hand tools. This might be basic hand-held power tools such as circular saws and drills.
They also need a basic introduction to cooking, such as food safety and preparation of easy things like hamburgers, eggs, and the like.
Sounds like a decent way to spend a school year. Half the year is home ec, the other half is shop.
Puckdropper
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On Dec 23, 3:38am, Puckdropper <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> wrote:

Home Ec for guys used to be the thing we all giggled at. Shop for girls! OHMIGAWD!
But, yeah, you're right, They both should be offered, and at least a basic course in each should be mandatory, as should the fiscal end of home ec.
Around here, the woodworking courses in HS were the big thing. They're now like Ivory soap, 99 44/100% pure--pure gone, that is, with the tools sold, and shop space converted to other uses. There simply are far fewer furniture makers around here now. Last week, one of the two remaining nearby announced it was laying off 90 of its 130 staff, permanently.
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It still seems like a 95/5 split for the classes that aren't required.

The fiscal end is taught in many schools. It's called something like Consumers Education and teaches you things like balancing checkbooks (equal weight on both sides?) and how to fill out tax forms. Best thing about that class was a certain blonde...

Shop and band were the two classes I felt were best for my mental state. They were the only places that were fun on a regular basis.
I've got to wonder how the next generation's going to turn out without these "unnecessary" classes.
Puckdropper
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Chalie, etal, Jamestown, NY used to be almost all furniture plants, but they've gone the way of all things. Crawford Furniture is probably the biggest one left, unless you count Bush Industries(kit furniture) I think Fancher Chair is still opeating too, but the "giants" that built the city also stagnated it, and they're all gone now. Norm
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In 9th grade (ca. 1965), all the shop boys (including me) spent 6 weeks in Home Ec and the Home Ec girls spent 6 weeks in shop. We all thought it was silly at the time. Shows what we knew. -- Doug
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As long as they actually *teach* some economics and budgeting. I took a Home Ec course in my high school in 1968 or '69 I think. Their idea of teaching economics was to play the board game "Life." When I pointed out that the game *required* me and my partner to purchase a car for our teenager with a budget that would not really support it, the instructor didn't seem to care. Sigh.
Bill Ranck Blacksburg, Va.
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Puckdropper wrote:

Beats the Hell out of most of my time in school. What bugs me is that people who escape from those torture chambers send their kids right back and act like it's a good idea.
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On Tue, 23 Dec 2008 05:39:34 -0500, J. Clarke wrote:

In most all cases the parents have no choice about sending their kids to the schools, as the law requires it. They can not even send them to a trade school instead of regular school. You may call them torture chambers, but how many would be unable to read to write if they did not attend the schools. Even now there is many who drop out of school that can not fill out a job application.
Paul T.
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PHT wrote:

The law requires it but that doesn't mean that the parents have to like it.

They have the option of private schools if they can afford them or home schooling if either parent has the time. If parents didn't like sending their kids to those miserable schools the law would have been changed long since.

There are many who finished school who cannot fill out a job application too.
The schools are a miserable experience that produce mediocre results. The argument that they are better than nothing doesn't wash. What did you personally learn in the public schools school other than to read and write and do sums that was of any real value in later life?
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Touch typing. Driver's Ed. Drafting. History and Government. Wood shop. Chemistry and Physics. Geometry, Trig, and Intro to Calculus. (If you'd like to include those in "sums", that's fine.) -- Doug
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Douglas Johnson wrote:

Ok, I admit, that was useful.

Really worthless. Learned more from my Dad in an hour than in a whole semester of that crap.

Lucky you. I got one mechanical drawing course. Learned vastly more from my mother's college drafting text.

What did you learn about history and government that was (a) useful and (b) true? I'm _still_ unlearning that crap.

Again, lucky you.

When have you actually used it?

Lucky you with the intro to calculus. I've never found mathematical proofs to be particularly useful. Trig, OK, I'll grant you that one.

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Electricity; magnetism; optics; basic kinetics; surface tension of polar fluids; combustion products; oxidation and reduction reactions; acids and bases; metallurgy of tool steels...

These are all fundamentals, the role of primary and secondary education, useful of themselves and necessary foundations for the other basic sciences of fluid and thermodynamics, statics, ... Not a day goes by that my technical education isn't put to use. Anytime a number is involved, even telling the time, I'm drawing on knowledge grounded in my early education. Y'all also overlooked basic grammar and language, formal logic, foreign language, art appreciation, towel flicking, ... which led to, among other things, persuasive and other forms of writing.
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wrote:

"Useful" is IMO something of an understatement. It is a never-ending source of wonder to me to see how very few computer programmers -- who spend our freaking *lives* at keyboards -- can touch-type.

Amen to that.
One thing Dad taught me that they never even mentioned in Driver's Ed: if you see a ball bounce out into the road, hit the brakes NOW, because there WILL be a child behind it.
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If my Dad had tried to teach me to drive, one of us would have been in the hospital, the other in jail. Not that I didn't learn a lot from him, just more by example than instruction. Besides, in my state you could get your license two years earlier with Driver's Ed. It was also good for an insurance discount into my 20's.

A history teacher gave me a love of history. Maybe half my recreational reading is history. As for government, understanding of the structure and powers of the Federal government is useful almost every day.

It lets you call "bullshit" on someone or something that claims to violate basic principles.

I have a patent which has a formal proof as a key component.
-- Doug
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Douglas Johnson wrote:

I don't recall any insurance discount, yes, it let me drive two years earlier, but that's politics and not skills. Was a waste of time.

Lucky you. The main thing I learned from history teachers was that history sucks.
As to understanding the structure and powers of the Federal government, yes, that's useful, but I didn't learn anything about it in school. I learned a bunch of feel-good bullshit though.

Calling bullshit based on high school physics and chemistry is a good way to make a fool of yourself.

A patent for _what_ and is it making money for you?
Sounds to me like you went to an unusual school. The most important thing I got out of high school was _me_.
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J. Clarke wrote:

[snip]>
You are right. School for you was of no real value.     j4
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