We are thrilled to announce a fantastic panel discussion at East Bay Mini Maker Faire:  The 21st Century Shop Class:  Developing the Creative and Critical Doers in Today’s Schools.  David Clifford of the East Bay School for Boys will lead the discussion along with a variety of “shop teachers” from around the Bay Area to discuss why learning with one’s hands is critical in today’s complex world.

Shop class?!  Surely you remember shop class:  Bookcase projects? Cutting boards?  You might not know this, but those classes and projects have gone the way of home phone service and the decline in manufacturing jobs in the U.S.  Shop class is pretty much gone.  Lathes, band saws and routers liquidated.

Maybe those bookcase projects were one-dimensional.  But in the vacuum of any hands-on learning opportunities in school, there is rising recognition that shop class might have purpose after all.  There are studies to prove it:  many people show improved comprehension of science and math principles when they get to MAKE something instead of read it in a book.

Spanish class desks 8th graders designed and built at East Bay School for Boys

Clifford knows it from experience. He spent 13 years as a “shop teacher” at Lick Willmerding High School in San Francisco—part of that as the Director of the Technical Arts program (he is now Innovation and Outreach Director for the new East Bay School for Boys—check out the nice set of resources he has on design and building.)

Clifford and Lick’s approach to Technical Arts is interdisciplinary in the best way:  ” Application objectives include cross-disciplinary and collaborative learning, skills for engineering, effective problem solving, creative expression, competency in the language of craft and design, and personal empowerment through self-confidence and self-esteem.”

Clifford will be making a presentation on his findings and curriculum objectives for this kind of class, and then will moderate a panel discussion amongst “shop” teachers from across the Bay Area, including:

  • Eric Temple, Head of School, Lick-Wilmerding High School (San Francisco)
  • Alex Vitturn, woodshop teacher, Aurora School (Oakland)
  • Liisa Pine, welding instructor at Laney College High School Machining and Welding Program (Oakland)
  • Casey Shea, math teacher and Project Make instructor at Analy High School (Sebastopol)

If you are a parent interested in bringing shop back to school, or if you are an educator working towards this, we encourage you to come participate in the discussion.  Bring shop class back to school!