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keep your daughters out of shop class

updated sat 23 jun 01


David Hendley on fri 22 jun 01

I have certainly enjoyed the 'shop class' discussion. It has nothing
to do with clay, yet everything to do with it.
I must say I'm surprised that Primal Kelly, usually my staunchest
home-schooling ally on Clayart, initiated the suggestion to enroll
girls in shop class in school.
School is the problem.

School has taken over the parents' job of raising their children.
There is no need for 'shop class' for girls or 'home economics
class' for boys if children are simply involved in the activities of
an active family.
If your children see you repair the car, sew a shirt, install a circuit
for a new kiln, and cook a delicious meal they will be just fine.
Even if they don't learn the specifics of the task, they will absorb
the notion that all things are doable, and there are very, very few
jobs that are gender specific.
Your children are the most important part of your life. Don't send
them away to learn in an artifical situation.

I know, I know, the world is full of lousy parents who's only desire
is to have a few beers and watch TV every day. We aren't, and never
were, talking to them. If you are reading Clayart you already know
the value and meaning of work and accomplishment, and you want
to open all the doors for your kids.

As for you women who are bemoaning your lack of electrical or
welding skills: chill out. If you are intellegnet and industrious, none
of this stuff is hard. You don't need to 'take' a welding class to
learn how to weld. Get some books from the library, buy some
supplies, and have at it.

This approach and attitude has served me well. I had to learn every
thing manual and mechanical as an adult. My father did nothing
in the way of home maintenance, car repair, building, or making
things. Not that he was bad or neglectful, it just wasn't his thing.
I went to a 'prep school' in high school that would not even consider
offering any course as prosaic as 'shop'.
Now, as an adult, I know how to fix machines, weld, and build a house,
including plumbing and wiring.
There's nothing like building your own house. Once you've done that,
there's nothing you won't try, and it will seem like a normal option to
your children.

Women will have a more difficut time of some things because they
will have to deal with jerks who belittle and patroinze them, but
a can-do attitude is the most important trait you need to develop.
When we were pouring the piers for our house, the concrete pumper
truck driver was beside himself because my wife was going to handle
the discharge chute from his truck Of course she did fine, and hopefully
the guy learned something.

One of the reasons I decided to become a potter was so I would lead a
varied and active life, and be home where I could influence my children.
It all ties together.
Results of a lifestyle survey I recently posed to my kids:
Would you like to be a potter? Yes: 0 No: 2
Would you like to build your own house? Yes: 0 No:2
Would you like to live in the city or the counrty? City: 2 Counrty:0
Oh well, they say things skip a generation.
I'm staying up late this summer solstace, canning my bumper crop
of green beans. Picked 50 pounds of tomatoes this evening, so
picante sauce will be cooking tomorrow. Although they know how
to use it, I'm sure my children will never use the pressure canner, and
it will go cheap in a garage sale after I'm gone.

P. S. Nikki, the only phrase more dreaded to a hotel manager than 'It's a
NCECA Conference', is 'It's a La Leche League Conference'

David Hendley
Maydelle, Texas