Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shop Class

"Idle hands are the devil's workshop." Remember that saying from our childhood?

Today in the news more idle hands are being planned across the country. We are fighting hard to keep our fine agricultural education programs intact in Ohio. That is no easy struggle with looming budget cuts.

"California School District May Eliminate Woodshop Amid Budget Concerns.
California's Press-Enterprise (4/20, Johnson) reported, "The Colton Joint Unified School District" in Southern California "may cut its woodshop programs at both Bloomington and Colton high schools because of budget concerns." Other "Inland school districts, from Riverside to Lake Elsinore, have reduced or eliminated woodshop programs, citing costs and a lack of qualified teachers." Several other schools in the area have "morphed what once were hobby courses into career academy programs aimed at giving teens experience in jobs such as construction, carpentry and cabinet making." According to the Press-Enterprise, the "main reasons the programs disappear are a greater emphasis on testing, which keeps students from taking electives, and a teaching-credential requirement that industrial arts instructors have industry experience."

Wood shop is all but gone in Ohio. The result is kids who still can't pass the state test but can't even measure, cut and nail a board, either.

Now I know we can't afford all the "frills" some people consider ag and shop classes to be but look at our graduates when we cut these programs. No wonder we are in the mess we are in!

I use my limited shop class experience every day. I saw the need for shop so much in my career I took 19 quarter hours of Agricultural Engineering at Ohio State in my baccalaureate program. That was enough classes for a minor in Ag Engineering and something I use each and every day.

Look at our lifestyle. We depend on machines but we don't understand them, let alone be able to troubleshoot them and repair them. So we get frustrated when we have to hire "some flunky" to try and keep our machinery running.

Part of my success is my respect of mechanics. I am too impatient to stay sane during breakdowns when you need a machine. But the respect of mechanics and preventive maintenance has kept me safe and efficient while employing many of my successful graduates. What are we going to do without them, farm like the beloved Amish? That wouldn't feed this world but those folks know more about life and machines than our fancy curriculum's could ever hope to teach.

Give me shop class. Every child should have to take at least one introductory shop and agriculture class to graduate in Ed's World.

This is my take on the world today. What is your take? Keep the comments and emails and phone calls coming. Yesterday's post rose to Best Blog for some of you. The Prize Winners will be announced soon. Some of you want soil consulting, some innoculants, some want help on buying and/or improving a farm. I guess that wasn't such a bad post either!

Ed Winkle


  1. i change my vote! new favorite post! have strong opinions but all i have to comment with is a touch screen tablet. i can't tap fast enough 2 express myself!

  2. Hey, that means I am getting better? So be it. You guys make me feel like I am the Wise Old Owl but I am not. Just an average guy trying to be better than average. The phone rang off the hook yesterday and today so I must be saying something that provoke others to respond!

    You can change your vote all you want to but give me feedback like Budd. I need to know what you are thinking, then I can respond with my 59 years of experience!

    The callers say I am not into the typing thing, I know that. Farmers are diesel and dirt and nuts and bolts, not typing.

    Typing was my best class in high school so here I am!

  3. Shop class was without any shadow of doubt my best subject in high school.I had an exceptional teacher who had a knack of reaching out to the kids that no one else could.I think it was because he was one of them when he was young.We learned much more than how to do shop type things from him.
    Machinery maintenence is such an important part of agriculture today.The farmers who dont or wont care for their machinery seem to be the ones that struggle to survive.
    We have a good group of Amish in our community.Last year two of them started new dairy operations.Both of them are modern free-stall parlor set ups.The only difference is they are diesel powered.They have a line shaft that powers the compressers and the vacuum pump and a generator.
    I havent really voted yet so I will make Shop Class my favorite.Thanks for bringing back the memory of Mr.Shively and all that he did for me and others that I went to school with.

  4. The lessons I learned in shop class are the ones I remember most. Do a white collar job 80% of the time but the skills learned there have paid off in so many more ways.


  5. This is good enough for a follow up post!

    Thanks, guys!