Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chapter 4: Shop Class as Soulcraft

Hello All-

I am posting chapter 4 early because I have a hectic few days and I don't want to forget. I hope that this doesn't mess anyone up...

Chapter 4: Shop Class as Soulcraft

“The Education of a Gearhead”

“Different kinds of work attract different human types, and we are lucky if we find work that is fitting.” (Pg. 72)
Isn’t this so true? I am sure you have looked at different occupations and said, “There is no way I could do that!” meanwhile, there are people that find that occupation very fitting. There are people out there that are working jobs that are not fitting for them, but they stick with it. This reminds me of the advice that you should “do what you love”.  Students should explore different kinds of work to see if they can find the work that fits them. Offering many different experiences to them in school, such as tech. ed., computer repair and programing, auto repair, culinary, etc., can help them with this process.

“…the pertinent question for him may be not what IQ he has, but whether he is, for example, careful or commanding.” (Pg. 73) This quote stood out to me because it reminded me of a book called “How Children Succeed.”  It is very distantly related, but I am going to relate it anyways. Paul Tough discovers through his research that succeeding has little to do with scores on a test, or IQ (for the most part), or what academic classes you’re involved in, or how far ahead you are compared to your peers. Being successful has a lot to do with being persistent, curious, and having character.

This chapter includes a lot of narrative stories from the author about his own experiences. The big idea I got out of his stories what how he needed to be persistent, look at all the details, and how he was motivated by his public role. He learned a lot from others, and from trial and error. He has a lot of pride in his work, and that translates into the quality in his work. This is exactly what we want from our students. In order for that to happen, the task needs to have purpose (a purpose hat students recognize) and should be share with more than just the student and the teacher. This reminds me of being transparent in the classroom. 


  1. Remember you can schedule your post to not actual post until a specific dates.

    Yeah the trick I didn't tell you is how transparent class creates a quality and pride to the students work but yours as well.

    If the world can see it you want to keep it.... pretty.

  2. I agree with you, Kayla, when you mentioned liking what the book said about "finding work that is fitting." I think that the push in education for every student to go to college is taking this exploration away from students (they feel like a failure of sorts for not fitting into the "college mold"). There are jobs that I think right away I'd never, ever want to do that (yet I admire the people who do) and there are people who think I'm crazy for teaching 5th grade. There is something for everyone, but we need to stop trying to fit every kid into the same mold. Also, it's tough to help steer kids toward some of the jobs they may have in the future, because they don't exist right now.

    Another part of this chapter that I enjoyed was when he told the story about going to the mechanic with his bike and the kid working there thinking he knew how to fix it right away, yet he never really fixed the problem. This illustrates much of the work/effort that I see kids do in the classroom. For example, in math they will quickly read a word problem and solve it (well I should say, they come up with an answer) in almost no time. Very rarely do they take time to think through the problem, evaluate what actually needs to be done, and then ask themselves if their answer makes sense. Instead they just come up with the first answer and move onto the next thing, just to be done. The metacognitive piece is really lacking these days. I think it's due to the fact that the answers seem to always be at our fingertips, so kids/people think the thinking process is not completely necessary (the computer or machine will do the thinking for you).

  3. there is a train traveling 200 mph..... but why is that train going at all...

  4. As others have mentioned, you need to do what you love. But, you also need some experiences to identify what it is that you love. As my school transitions into a customized learning environment for all learners, we talk a lot about allowing learners voice and choice in the classroom and giving them the freedom to tailor their education to their interests and long term goals. This is a great idea in theory, but we haven't given our learners enough experiences yet to be able to make choices on their own interests instead of the easiest/quickest option. How do we give our learners "dish washing at a Porsche shop" experiences to help them identify what is "fitting" for them?

    Another thing that stuck out at me in this chapter is Crawford's statement "fixing things is very different from building things from scratch" (Kindle page 81). I liked his example that doctors will never be as good as they could fixing bodies because they didn't create them. Creating is at the top of Bloom's taxonomy but we very rarely give learners the opportunity to truly create and tweak from start to finish. Shop classes are/were one of the few places that learners could do this. I worry that if we continue to cut these programs some of the "Habits of Mind" such as perseverance, quality of work, and taking pride in your work are going to be lost as well. Yes, we can increase the amount we create in our regular classes, but are people even acknowledging that these skills/behaviors are being cut too?

  5. Kayla stated in her initial post, "I am sure you have looked at different occupations and said, "There is no way I could do that!” meanwhile, there are people that find that occupation very fitting." I hear that from elementary and high school teachers all the time - Middle school is such a difficult age to work with, how do you do it? We all have our tastes, don't we? ;) Although I have found different interests and skills since I chose to be a teacher, as long as I'm in education this is the level I want to work with.

    Ilyse highlited the section of the chapter where the "idiot" is working on the motorcycle. I used to landscape down in Wells and Ogunquit and the first guy I worked for had a crew of about 15, one an older guy names Norm. My boss was quite cheap and always gave all the mechanical equipment to Norm to fix up before he'd send it off to a real mechanic. Norm knew just enough to be dangerous and in the end, between Norm not doing what he had really been hired to do(landscape) and time lost because of gear that broke down on job sites, I'm sure my cheap boss lost a lot more money than he would have had he just brought it to the small engine repairman in the first place. Like the motorcycle mechanic in the story, Norm really had no investment in his work, you could tell by watching him he was just avoiding the landscaping part of the landscaping business.

    And to Lindsay's discussing "fixing things is very different from building things from scratch", you're right in saying that kids are losing pride in their work and perseverance. Maybe it's just my school but the majority of my 6th graders can't be bothered with reading directions. They simply want me to tell them how to do something. I never experienced this to such a degree until I returned from Japan. I'm not sure if they've been enabled at home or in elementary school. Maybe this is another area where shop class can provide experiences for these kids in this area - if you don't follow the directions, try your best or give up when you make a mistake, you won't get your skateboard, or you'll get a crappy one. Not getting that skateboard is a lot more meaningful for most kids over getting a poor grade on an assignment. Interesting to note as well that the same boy or girl that gives up and comes straight to my desk when they run into a problem are the same kids that will sit in front of Halo or Metal Gear for hours trying to solve or complete a level or get that next big weapon.

    As to why that train is running at all... I tried to come up with but failed at a witty answer.