Why Schools Need to Bring Back Shop Class Response

After reading Ken Robinson’s article, Why Schools Need to Bring Back Shop Class, I had a few questions. I wondered, who views vocational programs as second rate? Why is the source not cited? And, what schools are cited? Why does he not include more schools that do have programs like these and use them for evidence at how well it is working? Finally, I was curious why these programs are considered second rate? How do these programs correspond or deviate from the academic curriculum? Throughout the article, Robinson drives the importance of shop class, and its numerous benefits. If students are taught only to memorize facts and nothing that might help them to discover a career or passion, then they will end up never exceeding expectations set before them, living life as mediocre instead of extraordinary. Sir Ken backs this belief up using a 2013 study that estimated that “almost 6 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither in school or work.” When someone is passionate about the work they are doing, they go above and beyond to make it perfect, wanting it to shine. However, most people come out of high school or college, get a boring job they don’t really want, and they only meet the minimum requirements. They do not try to exceed expectations, which means they are not going to have an extraordinary life. However, when students – and people in general – are able to pursue their passions, they become much more involved in what they are doing. This means that they will be able to be promoted in their job, have better support for their family, more leisure time, and overall have a happier outlook on life. Sir Ken uses the example of students at Analy High School in Sebastopol, California who do not try in classes, are usually not outgoing or vivacious, and shows what happens when they are allowed to pursue something they love. He says that “Students who’ve been slumbering through school wake up. Those who thought they weren’t smart find that they are. Those who feared they couldn’t achieve anything discover they can. In the process, they build a stronger sense of purpose and self-respect. Kids who thought they had no chance of going to college find that they do. Those who don’t want to go to college find there are other routes in life that are just as rewarding.” This is powerful: the fact that these classes are not just ‘extra add-ons’ but instead classes that tap into a students’ personality, allowing them to find purpose and meaning instead of just another factual answer. It allows them to broaden not only their creativity, but their sense of self-worth as well as their ability to communicate with others. These vocational programs will, in the long run, allow students to succeed much more than just traditional school alone. These programs teach them that “‘their ideas can be transformed into marketable commodities,’ said Shea. …I’m talking with a finance teacher we have to set this up as a business class on student enterprise, with real outcomes.’” Through this type of program, students are able to connect, on real-world levels, with real-world problems with real-world results. Most of the students coming out of these ‘alternative educations’ are able to get and sustain jobs that not only do they enjoy but will help place them on the path to bright futures. This will, ultimately, lead them to have far greater successes than by simply receiving a traditional education.

 

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