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QotW: Did your school have hands on subjects, shop, typing, home economics, sewing, anything where you used your hands?


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Did your school have hands on subjects, shop, typing, home economics, sewing, anything where you used your hands?

I think this is a great question, and something that I have been considering for years since I have been a HS art teacher in a previous life! I remember my own US education where we were taught all sorts of fine motor skills from using scissors, and carving knives, up to band saws and table saws and drill presses in shop classes, how to use art materials in art classes with gluing, cutting, assembling with staples string and other things. I went to a college that had art education as a major, and there I learned about more hand tools and equipment in the studios, weaving, jewelry and metalcraft, ceramics, painting, drawing. Many of these I had learned much before,  but learned much more in the college studio classes and formal learning. Much of the foundation for all of this was learned from home, my parents taught us to use tools, my dad around the house and car, my mom taught me about sewing and mending clothes, we always cooked or baked together. Then their was the Boy Scouts and  i learned about camping in all seasons, making fires and cooking on them, water skiing, swimming and much more.

We look at the advances and benefits of computer operated machinery, robotic assembly and welding units, and lately 3D printers. We think Wow! so neat, so easily efficient, so safe! I remember my own US education where we were taught all sorts of fine motor skills from using scissors, and carving knives, up to band saws and table saws and drill presses in shop classes, how to use art materials in art classes with gluing, cutting, assembling with staples string and other things.  Yet what are the consequences? @Kelly in AK posted his notice of the decline of students in their manual dexterity at being unable to do simple tasks like fold paper, use scissors and such. Sad to say, but I believe him, and hate to prognosticate where this may lead to in our society. Will folks loose their ability to use their hands for simple tasks like cutting out a snowflake, beyond just forgetting how to fold the paper for the snowflake? Throw in your thoughts folks and lets have fun the future is here!

So should we expand this question to ask where you learned physical dexterity skills and how?

Thanks for your question oldlady!

best,

Pres

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I did wood shop and metal casting in Junior High (7-9th grades)now called middle school I think? sewing and typing was high school for sure.

In collage we had home economics and wood shop and auto repair (I took none of that )as I was 110% into ceramiucs /art major. 

I can from a family that made stuff and art was also in that mix so it was learned at home -surfboards from Balsa wood in the 50s and aluminum skateboards made with steel skates (before better wheels and wood tops).  Worked on Bicycles and mini bikes then go carts then cars. Was into wood work as a young boy and fiberglass as well. Pained my bike fram in 5th grade after stripping it down. School had programs then like shop and art as this was before Reagan killed the educational budjet for our state. Back when stuff with hands was common practice.

Now its all gone . Cal went from #1 in education (back in the day) to #37 in the Forbes Mag scale this past year. My mother taught Home economics in high school and collage for 35 years. I have little more than most in terms of this exposure.

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My high school (graduated 1985) had a home economics room, complete with stovetops, ovens, and sewing machines. It had a well equipped wood shop, and a separate “industrial arts” lab. Two art rooms, one for fine arts and another for ceramics. It’s important to know the context of this was soon after a major oil boom in Alaska. 

A few years ago I was able to peruse the school district’s surplus warehouse. I was surprised by the number and variety  of stationary power tools that had been removed from schools.

What I see now in schools that’s analogous are robotics labs, 3-D printing, and CAD design spaces. Maker spaces. Definitely some hands on skills happening there, just not the kind I grew up with. Art rooms and ceramics labs still remain. Thankfully. 

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My middle school, H.S. years were in the late 50's early '60's and the only things girls could take were typing & home ec. Sewing was taught by the moms & art classes were fairly lame-I taught myself in terms of most hands-on art materials/processes. Where I lucked out was that my dad wanted a boy-no secret in our house-and got me instead. So, since I hated the rigid box for females, I pestered him until I was a full-fledged member of his Scout Troop & did everything the boys did, indoors & in the wild, and just as good. That earned me the privlege of being able to go down to the basement to my dad's shop where I got to do everything from manual & power equipment for wood/metal/plastic to working the Morse code for him (as a Ham radio operator) on his brass key pad. I didn't go to university art school until the '80s and by then things were much, much better--we women could & did the same things as the guys-no restrictions. So I learned a lot more in terms of dexterity , motor control etc, via ceramics, cold glass,wood, sculpture (lite welding), textiles, some manual typesetting, & pre-computer graphic arts...cut and paste was real different ha ha.   

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I thought my school had everything,  it was a very large school so they had more than enough kids to fill each program.   I was mostly in art and journalism but they had also so had cooking, sewing and secretarial program.   The art students could get help in the shop classes with tools that weren't in the art class  for their projects.   They had all kind of programs for the boys  drafting,  mechanics and shop class, they also had buses that would take the boys to a technical school for half days.    My mother in-law started telling me about her high school classes,  she lived in western Kansas.   They taught those children everything would would need to know to run a farm or ranch.  They also had a tough math,  English, and history curriculum  and broad sports programs for the boy and girls.  She died at the age of 98 two years ago she was a world traveler and worked at a bank with the first primitive computers.   Denice 

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@Denice, I also worked in a bank night duty, posting liability ledgers, trouble shooting branches that did not prove out, holiday decorating and signage using art skills. Did a 8' X 15' nativity scene for Christmas decoration, they hung it many years after I was gone in the lobby. So many different phases in life each seeming like an individual on their own. . . I am sure many have been the same.

 

best,

Pres

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Yes. I took 4 years of wood working, and 4 years of architectural drafting. Small engine repair, lathe, metallurgy, welding, and 2 years of mechanical drafting. 2 years of electrical wiring, a semester of electrical motor repair. I took Home Ec my senior year, but I already knew how to cook. Some farm classes, which were pretty much useless because I was a farm boy anyway. I excelled in chemistry, always had a curiosity about it. Enrolled in a local college to major in chemistry until I realized I would spend the rest of my life in a cubicle- so I dropped out.

Tom

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In Southern California elementary school in the 50s we learned to write the alphabet by printing and then cursive (my youngest grandchild, 21,  cannot read or write in cursive :o ). We learned to fold, cut, color, draw, paste (yum!) and glue (Elmers doesn’t taste the same anymore, either).  
My Mom was ‘crafty’ and my Dad was a mechanic/woodworker. They grew up during the Depression, so making well and making do were basic understandings.  I spent my free time making stuff, dolls and doll clothes and paper dolls with my best friend, and reading about making stuff. Sewing and cooking classes in 8th and 9th grade, wished I could take woodworking in High School, but that was for boys. I made a lot of my own clothes, also with a best friend (we wanted and needed to be original). Some Art teachers were inspiring and remembered fondly.
I’m jealous of folks who had ceramics in high school. It wasn’t until my second attempt at Junior College, age 22, that I finally found my clay calling :wub:  Hanging out with other clay people led naturally to construction, brick laying, booth building, photography, Volkswagen repairs, computer skills for brochures and flyers and accounts, and a sometimes economically perilous but fulfilling life of creativity.

Edited by Rae Reich
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I went to a Composite high school, so yeah, there were all the home ec/welding/art/shop/automotive/beauty culture courses available. The school was set up as a precursor for trades or college or both. (Beauty culture is what they called it, but if you went through all the courses, you would up as a fully fledged hairdresser or esthetician). That was in the 90’s. 

Programs like this are still alive. My 14yo takes foods and fabrication as electives in jr high, and loves them. 

It’s hard for me to look at this question personally without viewing it through the lens of adhd, which, is highly heritable. I come from a long line of folks who were very smart, and didn’t hold still with any particular grace. Before computers, you either did things with your hands, or you went crazy. My Oma used to tell us that she had to give my dad stuff he could take apart and put back together, or he’d do it to something expensive like the TV. My mom’s side is all farmers and other flavours of highly capable people. So knitting, sewing, pouring candles, fixing things, projects involving creative reuse were going on constantly around me. I didn’t realize not everyone did that until I moved out and had roommates. 

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We had wood and metal shops, laboratory Chemistry and Biology in seventh grade (near Pittsburgh, PA); art and music all through grade school, everywhere we went; sports options and PE class also everywhere. 
In grades eight through twelve, drafting; wood, metal, cooking, sewing and auto shops (I did a semester of wood, for access to the big saw, also one semester of auto, for access to the equipment to refurbish my cylinder heads); many music options, also theater and dance; an hour a week of "enrichment" course - I recall surveying and some heavy equipment driving; driver training course; several sports options; typing and office machines classes.

In the nearby public school districts (Central and Northern California), most of the shops have closed in the last forty years or so - also many dance, music, and theater studios have shuttered. There are more computer labs! I'd like to see more focused instruction in development (coding, e.g. Java, C++, Python) vs. just learning to run applications (e.g. Excel, Word, database, etc.).

Our Mother was an accomplished bowler (her average was well over 200 for many years), an internationally known specialist in embroidery, dabbled in oils and acrylics, sewed (from scratch) and repaired clothing, knitted and crocheted, and was a whiz in the kitchen. She learned to swim and play the guitar well after reaching her sixties.
Our Pop leveraged his background in heavy equipment repair and maintenance, welding, and machining (all in the logging trade) in his career as an Electrical Engineer. He designed and built several solutions in his work, also around the house and for his hobbies, e.g. he designed and built spearguns (for diving/fishing), fashioned belt buckles, designed and built nutcrackers...
Any road, we had hand work going on at home, all the time. We had access to tools, materials, workshop space, and the kitchen as well. We had our parent's support for just about anything we wanted to try. I started out with frying an egg at about five, was well into scratch cakes and pies by seven. My brother and I got into crepes later on. Mom cried.
We adjusted, cleaned, repaired and lubed/maintained our skateboards, bikes, motorbikes and automobiles. We took things apart and mostly put'm back together as well.
Pop used to bring things home for us to tinker with, e.g. his friend's broken Attitude Indicator (from a small plane). The friend was mad when Pop told him his seven year old son had disassembled the unit, found the fault, made the sketch, then re-assembled it.

All that to say that home and community are big influences.

I wasn't the one who picked up manual skills the fastest, that's for sure. I never did catch on to bowling, though try I did! I don't draw well, am fairly hopeless with sculpting, struggled with the violin for several years, was typically picked last for sports... I have some gifts - "perfect pitch" being one; stamina for the distance events, that's another; focus and persistence, that's helpful; a somewhat analytical approach, that's sometimes helpful too.
 

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