You don’t know, what you don’t know

Published On: February 10th, 2021|Categories: Blog|

These were never truer words, when applied to high school students. As such, I continue to make the case for bolstering up Industrial Arts Education in our high schools.

Over the last 40+ years, Industrial Arts has been dismantled and pushed aside at high schools across the country. Truly one of the biggest mistakes our education system has ever made.

Here in Minnesota, the Department of Education states their graduation requirements as, “a core course of study that equips them with the knowledge and skills they need for success in postsecondary education, highly skilled work, and civic life.

The DOE, as well as the entire education system, are all 4 year or more graduates themselves. They must equate postsecondary education AND highly skilled work as one in the same. As their graduation requirements teach skills geared at moving on to a 4-year degree.

Course credits required by Minnesota for graduation are:  language arts – 4 credits, mathematics – 3 credits,  science – 3, social studies 3 ½,  arts 1 credit, augmented by 7 elective credits. The school districts themselves may require additional course credits or other requirements for graduation beyond the minimum required by the state.

Where, in those graduation requirements, is anything that would prepare a student for successfully choosing a career, if they do not attend a 4-year institution?  How would any high school student know if they have an interest in, or skill set suited for being an auto mechanic, an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter, an industrial technician, a tool maker, or dozens of other trade-oriented careers, (YES CAREERS) that are great ways of making a good living.

High School graduation requires a credit in the arts, why do we not require a credit in the industrial arts?

Even if you choose to pursue a 4-year degree and a career in the office environment, what adult does not need trades-like skills? What grown adult does not own a car that requires maintenance, or own a house that does not need repairs, or need to fix a faucet, or maintain a lawnmower, the list is endless. Parents retort, “You can hire someone to do those tasks for you.” Duh, you’re making my point for me. Maybe that is why student loan forgiveness is such a hot topic, young adults are giving all their money to tech service providers.

My critics might suggest that students could take Industrial Arts as one (or more) of their 7 electives. I will refer to my intro, you don’t know, what you don’t know. Why would a high school student take a class in an area where the system, your administration, ever your parents, give the appearance that Industrial Arts courses do not matter. They will not help you get in the college you (they) want you to go to.

A case in point: a scene from the hit 80’s movie, The Breakfast Club.

Brian: I took shop because I thought it would be an easy A.

Bender: Why’d you think it would be easy? 

Brian: Have you seen some of the dopes that take shop?

The Minnesota Legislature (Bills HF 380 & SF577)  is currently looking at funding a program to inject more teachers into the Industrial Arts field. That is a long overdue effort. Along that same sentiment, let us see if we can add Industrial Arts to our high school graduation requirements.

Another case in point, I still have a toolbox I made in Industrial arts some 50 years ago (pre 80’s). I measured and cut the sheet of steel, bent it, welded the pieces together. Drilled holes, riveted on the latches, I welded on the hinge and handle. I also took an electronics repair class in high school. I worked on televisions and radios learning how they worked and how to fix them. Learning these skills and exposure to the equipment led me to wanting to become an engineer. Not taking math, physics, chemistry, social studies, or the humanities (arts) class I took (all graduation requirements). It was Industrial Arts that provided me a direction that shaped my future. Math and physics came in handy, but, until talking Industrial Arts, I didn’t know what I didn’t know…………….


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