By John Rajcic

Lift the hood of your car and more than likely you will say, “wow,” and slam it shut.

Brendon Mendenhall, Brandon Grassilli and their other “shop” classmates are to not only be congratulated but emulated by many students for their hands-on application of what they learned in auto shop. They worked with their hands and minds to solve complex mechanical problems. Kudos to their teachers, also.

These “shop” classes are undervalued and looked upon by many as the classes that are not taken by the “smart” kids.

What is in the school curriculum that is valued for so many students who do not desire to trudge through the usual college program? It is rightly said, ”that when a book becomes obsolete, they make it a degree requirement.”

When I ask seniors what they will do next year, the usual reluctant answer is, ”go to college or Palomar.” When I say, ”how about a good trade school or trade school program at a junior college?” The response is slow in coming, if at all, even though on close inquiry that is their desire. It seems difficult for students to say ”I love fixing and building things with my hands and I plan to work as an apprentice electrician and go to trade school and become a master electrician.”

Is it worth the effort going to a four-year college, considering the cost and productive-work time forgone by getting a degree in communications or political science? Those who work with their hands can also easily become proficient in political science and communications today much easier with the net than Lincoln ever dreamed of. Further, taking online courses at times one desires is very inviting for those with a strong interest in a subject that has nothing or little to do with their daily work.

Saying, “I am training to become an auto mechanic or electrician” is not as appreciated and prestigious as saying I am going to a state college or particularly Ivy League colleges.

Parents have the same response when asked, ”what are your children going to do when they graduate from high school?”

We have undervalued working with our hands and minds. Going to college is fine for many students but for legions of other students their hands and minds should be directed toward hands-on work.

One need not go to college to have an appreciation for books, the arts and deep inquiry into answers to the question why.

As an aside, I asked my neighbor who works in an office for an insurance company, ”what did you do today?” The answer was slow in coming and she was not too sure. When my son came home I asked him what he did today, quickly he answered, “I am installing a solar system” and began to tell me about the hands-on work with pride.

Shop classes are important to many students and to our community.

Today with a strong emphasis on math and science to keep up with the Asians, as we did with Sputnik, we tend to relegate the arts to a tertiary position also, forgetting the great love so many students have for these vital hands-on subjects. Dance, theater, art, music and the like are so important for living in a society that is appreciative of the wonders of life. ”Art is a civilization’s signature.” Of all art forms, music ranks first because it ‘best ministers to human need.”

Art and shop programs tend to be cut during school revenue declines. Do not let it happen. Support shop and art programs.