Bring Back Home Ec and Shop Classes
My third policy wish for the USA is a refocus in making education supportive of young peoples becoming self sufficient and capable of earning a living wage. Today, the political parties are talking about making a college education more accessible and affordable while figuring out ways to reduce the burden of college loan debts. Although I applaud these efforts, I am concerned about all of our young peoples, including those who are not college bound.
I would make it a federal mandate to bring back modernized versions of Home Economics and Shop classes into the High School and even extending these programs into the grade schools. Local businesses and vocational schools could coordinate with the public systems to ensure training to meet the needs of nearby companies’ hiring goals, especially those whose pay scales are greater than $20.00 per hour. Then those students who do not immediately go off to a university will have an option. But even those who do go off to earn a post high school degree will have their lives enhanced by the skills they have developed which they can rely on for the rest of their lives.
The goal would be to empower ALL of our young adults to attain their fullest potential. There is confidence building when one learns how to be self sufficient. Not every student will be preparing for college and they should also be ready for success.
There should be a basic home economics and shop class curriculum but if students show a passion and a gift for a specific area of study, they should be encouraged to go further. There could be higher level classes within the same school system, or a connection made with the local vocational schools and local businesses which are looking to hire young peoples with particular skill proficiencies. There could be summer programs that offer these classes (as well as art and music courses) for free, sponsored by community leaders to help take kids off the streets. If there is a will to lift up these young peoples, then there is no shortage of ideas.
My vision of today’s Home Economics classes would include at a minimum training in the following areas:
1.) Basic sewing skills. This would provide showing students how to sew a button, how to do alterations and even how to sew a baby outfit which could then be donated. Learning how to do laundry and how to iron should be a part of this education.
2.) Nutritional classes to figure out how to shop, how to read labels and how to cook simple well balanced meals. If possible, it would be great to have the students develop and care for an organic garden where the produce could be used for the school lunch programs.
3.) Demonstrations on how to clean a house and how to choose cleaning supplies.
4.) How to develop an understanding of the body from the point of view of how to prevent future illnesses by NOT SMOKING, eating proper foods and regularly exercising throughout one’s life.
5.) Every student should learn how to open a bank account; how to balance a check book; the importance of a good credit rating; why and how to save for emergencies and retirement; how to budget and how to be an informed consumer.
6.) All should learn about the responsibilities of caring for a baby which should include how to change a diaper, how to give the little one a bath, how and what to feed a baby, how to do how to treat a crying baby, CPR, etc.
7.) Teach students how to dress and act during a job interview; how to do an error free, effective resume and how to follow up with a thank you note.
My Vision for the Shop Classes of Today
1.) Train young people on how to change a car’s tire, how to change the oil and do basic repairs.
2.) Show students how to do basic repairs around the home;
3.) Demonstrate how to refinish a piece of furniture;
4.) Have students paint a room and then sign them up to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity or some other worthy project.
5.) Have students work as a team to design, build, and stain a piece of furniture.
Have both the Home Economics and the Shop students work as a team to develop a product that they can sell on the internet.
Recently, the DAILY KOS reporter, Mark E. Anderson visited his high school and was disappointed that his Shop program had been decimated. Here are some excerpts from his 8/2/15 article, “Shop Class as Soul Craft:”
“In high school, I was a shop rat. Power mechanics, auto mechanics, auto body, drafting, print shop, plastics shop, wood shop, and metal shop. Those classes are likely the only reason I was able to graduate from high school. I learned how to weld, sandblast, paint, sand, use power tools, hand tools, I learned to set type and run a printing press. I learned how to repair anything from a lawn mower engine up to my dad’s ’79 Mercury Zephyr. I learned more about math in wood shop than I did in Algebra and Geometry. I am not afraid to use a saw, hammer a nail, and could likely still run an arc welder if I needed to.”
“Those classes were central to my education. Teachers like Mr. Ackley (wood shop), Mr. Sample (auto shop), Mr. Bloom (power mechanics), Mr. Kane (metal shop), Mr. Suchomel (plastics), and Mr. Stasiluk (drafting and print shop) taught me the importance of reading comprehension, math, and above all, patience. They taught the practical side of what I was learning in English, Algebra, Geometry, and Physics.”
“We often hear of the skills gap… there are jobs out there, but not enough qualified applicants for those jobs: Based upon estimates of surveyed executives, about 60 percent of the manufacturing jobs unfilled today are attributable to a shortage of applicants with the requisite skills. Thus the authors anticipate that 2 million of the projected 3.4 million manufacturing jobs that come online by 2025 will be unfilled because of the skills gap… shop classes like machining, welding, and robotics are being crowded out. The very classes that allowed me to actually understand the Pythagorean theorem or Newton’s Third Law are the very classes that are on the chopping block.”
“We will always need people to be able to weld, fix cars, and other trades and these jobs should not be looked down upon…“The work of electricians, builders, plumbers, chefs, paramedics, carpen-ters, mechanics, engineers, security staff, and all the rest is absolutely vital to the quality of each of our lives.”
“The work of electricians, builders, plumbers, chefs, paramedics, carpenters, mechanics, engineers, security staff, and all the rest is absolutely vital to the quality of each of our lives.”
Teaching young people to be self reliant is a value consistent with republican principles. Yet, too often it is republican legislators gutting these programs.
Why Home Economics Should Be Mandatory | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/tom…/why-home–ec–class-should-be-mandatory Mother Jones Oct 16, 2013 – In other words, I retained just as much from my home ec class …”to shop intelligently, cook healthily, [and] manage money….
Who Killed Home Ec? Here’s The Real Story Behind Its Demise http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/home–ec–classes_n_5882830.html /The Huffington Post/ Sep 29, 2014 – You don’t hear about Home Ec courses … Both Home Economics and basic Shop classes. ..required…
Verizon’s #YouDon’tKnowMe Campaign Challenges Stereotypes of … https://theobamacrat.com/…/verizons–you don’t know me –campaign …6/28/16 Verizon’s #YouDon’tKnowMe Campaign Challenges Stereotypes of Young Men of Color, Promotes STEM.