When people discuss the future of woodworking as a craft, the discussion often gets depressing. As we all know, it is easier to plant the seed in children when they are young, with the hope that they will grown into future carpenters, builders or home hobbyists. The majority of school districts in the USA are in financial distress, so shop class gets cut. The future is computer technology, so shop class gets cut. You see what I mean? Our pipeline of future woodworkers is being drastically shrunk.
However, I finally found an uplifting article with an EXCELLENT counterpoint. In January, Linda Matchan of Boston.com posted an article titled “Some educators resist giving woodshop the chop” which is very, VERY well done. I can’t go into all of her points in detail or else this post will be longer than her original article but some of the highlights are:
- Shuttering shops was irresponsible and shortsighted
- Kids that use hands-on techniques in engineering and technology learn more!
- In one study, kids in vocational and shop programs graduated at higher rates than their peers and were more likely to pursue post-secondary education
- Shop can motivate an interest in math and reinforces math and science problem solving skills
- We reward kids who are good in math, writing, athletics…why not support kids who are talented experiencing the world through their hands?
Can you tell I feel passionately about this? The article goes on to reinforce these points. Think of all the kids who just aren’t naturally gifted in computer sciences or traditional math and sciences. It’s as if we are turning our backs on kids who could be extremely happy working in a trade such as woodworking.
OK, enough! Time for me to get off my soap box but I encourage you to take up the cause. Forward this article on to your woodworking friends and see how they feel. Maybe there is an opportunity for you to get involved locally with your school district or vocational school or college. You know how to use woodworking tools! You have a shop full of routers, router bits, a table saw with lots of saw blades, a band saw with blades, a jig saw, a ton of hand tools and planes…you have what some of these kids yearn for but their schools can no longer provide. Can you be a mentor? Can you teach one child the craft, as long as they promise to show a friend of theirs?