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Thread: Put your money where your mouth is.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    206

    Put your money where your mouth is.

    <rant mode on>
    One thing that greatly bothers me is that we live in a world where people talk, but don't do. Despite the endless rallies, protests, parades, drum circles, tea parties, "global awareness events", and other purpose-driven jamborees, personal participation and volunteerism seems to be at an all time low.

    I live in a state where people are always protesting or marching for something or another, but their thoughts and words seem to translate into little action. For example, support for riding the bus is almost always from owners of minivans or BMWs; those of us that actually take it on a daily basis know that they're a smelly, unreliable, and expensive ($2 fare!) mode of transportation in which muttering homeless people will invariably elbow you in the face. Demographics show that most Wisconsinites are in favor of education, but surprisingly few of them are willing to do anything to support it, whether it be to hire enough teachers that all students are able to take state-required classes or even just make sure their kids show up to class and do their homework.

    I've been helping out in the art metals & jewelry program at my old high school, and I'm appalled at the situation. All prerequisites have been removed, and, along with the other art classes, preference is given to "problem students" who take advantage of the easy grading to maintain the 2.5 average required not to drop out. The course has been cut in half from one year to one semester, and because many of the problem students in question are able to give vouchers in place of the materials fee, the budget is basically nonexistent. The net result is a class which interested and focused students are unable to take because a bunch of losers use it to hang around and play "catch" with the pipe cutter, which the teacher is then unable to afford to replace when it inevitably gets damaged. (How they put a twist in a cast-iron tool, I still don't know.)

    I'm currently in the process of helping the class re-gear towards projects that make use of less expensive materials, like aluminum or wood, or use techniques like electroplating to allow students to replace silver with copper or brass. I've mixed up a batch of etching mordant (ferric chloride + citric acid) at 1/3 the cost of commercial etchants, and am in the process of building some $15 power supplies that can do the job of a $150 store-bought unit. However, there's a certain point where you just get fed up with having to surf Craigslist because the teacher hasn't got enough money to fix broken tools.

    <rant mode off>

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Indianola, Ia about 12 miles south of Des Moines
    Posts
    440
    I hear you. We have the same problem here. The shop classes are cut and the sports are increasing. All in all we still have a good school system here. The scarey thing is that some day these kids will be our leaders.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North West Indiana
    Posts
    6,099
    Welcome to my world. Actually, on a day to day basis, I love my job (teaching welding, engines, pen turning). I haven't lowered my standards and actually have a higher attendance/pupil count rate than the one teacher that lets them run all over them. I do have administrative support for pulling out a couple of non performers at the start of each semester. (deem them a shop hazard and ask to have it put in a file so if that student gets hurt it is on the administrator's back instead of mine, amazing how they can find another place to put that student then, just don't abuse this opportunity). I have found destruction of tools comes from boredom and ignorance. So, the welding cabinet is locked during engines class, engines cabinet is locked during welding class, woods cabinets open during woods classes. Keep them busy and on task. But I know the frustration and pain you are talking of and hope this coming semester is better.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    206
    I'm terrified that someone is going to do something stupid under my watch - say, empty a bucket of etching mordant on someone else's head - and I'll be held responsible. If teachers don't have the option to remove students from their class, why should they be held responsible when they do something stupid with an acetylene torch?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North West Indiana
    Posts
    6,099
    Joseph, if you are there while the teacher is there, you in essence are "helping" the teacher who is responsible mostly for the conduct of the class. Quite honestly, if they are that out of control, they have no business in the "shop" or "lab". I have had in the past 23 years, one or two welding classes I have seriously considered teaching welding in the classroom. Going to the shop is a privelege and if they aren't mature enough we don't go. In effect, the teacher has to utilize peer pressure to his/her advantage.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    206
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Shively View Post
    Going to the shop is a privelege and if they aren't mature enough we don't go. In effect, the teacher has to utilize peer pressure to his/her advantage.
    The problem is that the teacher is effectively powerless. Unless her students are violating state or federal law, she'll be severely reprimanded if she removes any of them from the classroom. While I honestly feel that she's made the best of a very poor situation, there's only so much you can do with little time, no money, and difficult students.

    I'm probably overstating the issues with the students - the majority seem to be great kids, and working very hard - but it only takes one idiot with an oxyacetylene torch to blow the classroom to kingdom come.

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