Future of Shop Classes in High Schools

Our schools should teach shop class again.

Posted by ATTN: on Friday, December 16, 2016

When I was 13, in middle school we had shop class, everyone had to take it, everyone made a screw driver, wooden tool box and even an electric motor which I thought was pretty awesome. Now shop class is not even offered in many schools, even though it is proven many students don’t learn particularly well from text books. This seems very shortsighted, not everyone is going to go to college and certainly there are many paths to be very successful in skilled trades. It’s also ridiculous to think going to college means skills learned in shop class don’t offer a ton of benefits to compliment STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) curriculum. Our friends at TIME and FORBES do a lot better job of articulating the finer points, why we need these programs. But where do we go from here?

Maker Spaces

We’d love to see shop classes back in all high school but certainly we all understand schools don’t have unlimited funds and shop equipment is expensive. There are other options for shared resource partnerships which could make a lot of sense for everyone. We are seeing some signs of hope in Central Ohio with schools and other organizations partnering with the Columbus Idea Foundry, our local Maker Space, to develop programs to provide access to equipment needed to create “mini” Shop Classes and for FIRST Robotics teams to build their machines and practice.

Maker Spaces as a whole are growing and multiplying across the country. There is a real opportunity here for a large scale initiatives to partner schools with well run Maker Spaces to share the resources and expose students to a broad range of possibilities for personal growth and advancement. The Idea Foundry is hot bed of learning, innovation and small business creation that it would be very beneficial to expose students headed to college, looking for opportunities in skilled trades or perhaps have a different plans altogether.

Certainly not all Maker Spaces are going to be the right fit at this point, when the CIF started it was little more of a club house for a few artists and tinkerers using hand-me down tools, from a safety stand point probably not suitable for teaching teenagers. Fast forward to today and the Idea Foundry shop has upped its game tremendously and continuing to partner with the right companies to bring in new equipment. In just a few weeks (February 1) the CIF will be opening “the second floor” which is a co-working office & meeting space to compliment the woodworking, laser cutting, welding, prototyping, cast, etc from the first floor. Do your design and rendering work upstairs, build the prototypes downstairs then go back up to use their photo studio to take pictures of your new creation.

Idea Foundry Event Space

We really hope these sorts of programs will continue to grow and develop further to create the framework for a template that might be duplicated in other parts of the country. It would take some planning from schools and some accommodation from the Maker Spacers, but a large majority of maker space members are going to be heavy supporter of the benefits to educating the next generation on shop skills!

Thank You Mike Rowe

And if you need a little more to consider just listen to Mike Rowe, he does a lot of promotion for Skills USA and a great champion for the cause!



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  1. Paul Meyer says:

    Being a retired woodshop teacher, the problem with shop classed going away is because that when a current teacher retires there is no new teacher to take over the class. The education is 4-5 years long and the college debt is ???? compared to going into the trades where the wages are better without the college debt. And typically the kid that wants to teach shop classes can not qualify grade wise for college, because of the admissions being so competitive.

    • Paul Meyer says:

      Also– in addition to my first comment– the education system has become so political correct, that most of the real world conversations shop teachers had would not be tolerated if you are right wing (with most all of the education universe being left wing)

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