During the somewhat stressful process of scheduling for an upcoming year, McNicholas students are offered a variety of electives including Guitar Tech, Ceramics, and a selection of Art classes. These choices seem to be a pattern for many schools in the area of Cincinnati, and have been so since the influx of technology over the years.
In years past, men and women were taught not only the mandatory subjects, such as math, English, and science, but were given the opportunity to delve into the skills of wood working, cooking, and sewing. Women at the time were able to instill in themselves knowledge of what it took to run a household and men were educated further on valuable skills to accompany them throughout their lives.
Obviously, the roles of women and men have changed drastically. Though this is so, these classes did offer a very unique approach to preparation for ‘the real world’. Until 1994, McNick students were able to take classes like Home Economics, Mechanical Drawing (1 & 2), Bachelor Survival, Budgeting, and Sewing. They were discontinued, though, because a greater emphasis was put on technology-type classes.
McNick’s Former Wood shop, Mechanical Drawing, and Home Economics teacher, Sr. Judi Keehnean ‘59 said, “[The classes] gave the non-academic student the opportunity to succeed,” she said.
According to the Boston Globe, Home Economics should be reinstated in schools because it is “a forward-thinking new kind of class that would give a generation of young people—not just women, but everyone—the skills to shop intelligently, cook healthily, manage money, and live well.”
Many teenagers today find themselves struggling or steering away from tasks such as cooking a meal or balancing a checkbook. Director of Curriculum Mr. Dan Rosenbaum explained that the curriculum change is mainly due to the constricting costs of maintaining such classes and the inability to fit them into the already crunched schedules.
“As we have increased academic requirements, it’s hard to fit those classes in,” Rosenbaum said. “We have shifted to a college prep school, so we are preparing kids for college.”
Forbes commented on the subject of the rapid decline in shop classes by saying, “Without early exposure to shop class, many kids are going to lose out on the opportunity to discover whether or not they like making things, and the inclination to pursue a career as a drafter, carpenter, welder or auto mechanic.”
In addition to asking the question of whether these classes should be brought back or not, another question needs to be asked: How will our country carry on without its skilled drafters, carpenters, welders or auto mechanics?