My eyes could barely see over the edge of my father’s workbench. As if the bench eight wasn’t enough of
a problem, wood shavings were piled to
the edge, completely obstructing my view.
Though I could not see what he was doing, I will never forget the sound. My dad
was running a hand plane over the wood,
smoothing it for a piece of furniture. The
long, steady scraping sound held my attention as the hand plane rode over the
wood, creating shavings so thin you could
practically see through them. I loved the
wood shop then—and I still do.
My father was a teacher for thirty-six
years, with much of his time devoted to
teaching shop class (also called industrial arts or vocational education). I was
in shop every day after school from the
time I could walk. The classes he used
to teach no longer exist at my old high
school. Love of the crafts is not being
passed on like it once was, and schools
are neglecting topics that were once considered critical life skills.
Programs like No Child Left Behind
Shop Class Defined
and Common Core place such a strong
emphasis on college preparation that
public schools are cutting their shop
programs. Homeschool families may also
have a difficult time incorporating shop
programs. Tools can be expensive, and
the subject matter is so broad that it’s dif-
ficult to even know where to begin. There
is no doubt that many kids love to work
with their hands, so shouldn’t shop class
be part of a well-balanced curriculum?
Before we can dive into the merits of
the industrial arts for your homeschool,
let us first define what we are talking
about. Shop class is not a “thing.” It’s a
collection of hands-on life skills that
Teaching Against the Grain by Ron Hardman
There is no doubt that many kids love to work with their hands, so shouldn’t
shop class be part of a well-balanced curriculum?