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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
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Before retiring several years ago I worked as an educational consultant. In that capacity, I had the opportunity to visit numerous school systems throughout the Southwest. Although my job had nothing to do with wood tech. curriculum, I always managed to be able to spend some time in those classes. Most were taught by dedicated and knowledgeable teachers. However, in talking to these guys and inspecting their equipment, it seemed apparent that these men had little support from their school boards. Yet, the classes were full of students eager to learn the craft. Most of the teachers were of the opinion that when they retired the classes would no longer be offered. It seems that not enough universities were offering degrees in that area of education. No degrees equals no teachers equals no classes. School boards realize this and, money being tight, they fund other classes. It's shortsighted IMO but, it makes good sense from their standpoint.

On the other hand, there are a few excellent programs that remain vibrant, with good financial support. These programs all offered CAD/CAM, metal fabrication, HVAC, auto, machine shop, and woodworking. Those school systems actively recruit from the few universities that continue to offer the requisite degrees. These school systems have made very heavy investments, as you can imagine. At least one of the teachers I met has procured numerous grants from private sources. He said to me that it was just a matter of self preservation and job security. However, his students' enthusiasm and outstanding product belie his comments. He is one great teacher.

The point of this ramble is to hopefully spark a discussion and, maybe some action by folks to heighten awareness of the need for academic instruction in the various trades. America needs it tradesmen, now more than ever. I truly believe that we have an obligation to our kids to provide them with the opportunity to create with their hands and hearts as well as with their heads.

To borrow a line from a TV talking head "What say you?"

Gene

P.S. I'll be posting this in other forums, too.

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 10:11 AM
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Gene- Very well said, we need fewer "financial engineers" and more of the real kind. And, we need more of the hands on guys who can go out in the shop or plant and make it happen. Every kid should graduate high school with a mix of skills, practical as well as academic. We are shortchanging our kids by not providing at least a basic set of skills to all and a more advanced skill set for those who have the aptitude and interest.

Keep fighting the good fight!

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 11:14 AM
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In our school system, the teacher needs no prior knowledge of what the class is about. Just a degree in teaching.
To me, that makes no sense at all as you could have somebody proficient in History teaching Math. The same goes for our middle school woodshop class. The guy teaching it has no idea of what wood working is about, and it shows in how he has the classes make the projects. It is also very dangerous as he has no idea how the machinery is maintained, nor how to keep the classroom clean.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 11:39 AM
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Back when I was in school, and the "Dead Sea" was just sick, I too attended "shop class". It included drafting as well as wookworking, and I still enjoy hand drawing my projects. I really am not interested in CAD except with CAD I could use them to discribe a build, I just enjoy drawing them by hand. Well I need to talk to someone to see if there is any thing I could do. Not money I already pay more than enought for school tax that is being wasted. Nuf said don't mean to go there.

I have offered my shop to some friends to use and bring their son/daughters to learn some things about wood working. Now if we could get someone in here that knows something about it to teach, we'd be all set!!

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Jerry, I got ya beat. When I was in school the Dead Sea was a dry canyon. Noah hadn't even done his first sketch, yet.

Mike, that's scary! Many states don't require teachers to possess a degree in a particular subject unless they teach at Jr hi and above. I've met some teachers I wouldn't let near a PICTURE of a woodworking machine.

stermer, Thanks for the encouraging words. I've heard from some suppliers and manufacturers who might be encouraged to help in some way. Thinking of a consortium of folks who might pledge an amount to provide grants to schools. Long road ahead!
Gene

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 02:31 PM
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Don't give up hope Gene. There are many fine woodworking schools in the country for adults. Local Woodcraft and Rockler stores have classes, even HD and Lowes offer simple project sessions for kids. I know the days of shop classes are gone from public schools, but this forum is an example of teaching available for kids today. There are more than 20 members of the forums here in the Metro Detroit area. So far 7 is the biggest turnout we have managed for an activity. Since we tend to meet at member homes this has been manageable. It is up to each of us to encourage others to investigate the many forms of woodworking. We are the ones who will pass on the tradition, so jump in and get a friend to participate. I met a guy last night who "can't pound in a nail to save my life." Later this week he will be turning his first pen, and then who knows, maybe he will build a nice box using box joints on the corners. By guiding others we keep the flame burning, so make some sawdust with a friend.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Mike.

I'm not too concerned with adults. Most, who are so inclined, can find their way around a saw and router. It's the kids that are missing out on a future that could mean a lot to them that concerns me. Not everyone wants or needs an academic degree. Schools that don't/can't offer alternatives are failing in their mission, failing those kids.
On a broader scale, our tradesman population is aging. We need some new blood.

Gene

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