Bring back shop class!

Bring back shop class!

Woodmere Jr. High South Shop Class – Nov. 15, 1974 courtesy Flickr user scarlatti2004.

I was one of a generation of American secondary school students who didn’t even have the option to take “industrial arts” classes. Fortunately, I got plenty of hands-on how-to training at home, from Dad, who had a workbench and a garage full of tools that he was patient enough to let me borrow, break, and/or lose while I figured out how to use them.

From Linda Matchan’s great article at

It’s been a discouraging time for teachers. Recently they got the news that 15-year-olds in the United States are lagging seriously behind their global counterparts: An international assessment found they ranked 25th among peers from 34 countries in math and just average in science and reading.

While there’s no quick fix, many woodworking teachers are convinced that getting students to work with their hands and not just their heads would help. They believe that shuttering the shops was irresponsible and shortsighted, a mistake that has helped create a dependent generation of young people who don’t know how to fix things and lack even the most basic manual competence.

[Thanks, Alan Dove!]

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan