Shop Class IV


blog post
The official name for ‘shop’ was Industrial Arts. At one time IA was called manual training and evolved to manual arts before IA. One semester of the required experience was mechanical drawing. In an earlier post, I said it was one quarter. Oh how memory fades in the octolife1My word for octogenarian..2I also said electricity was part of the shop experience, but it was part of the MD time. I’m not sure why it wasn’t called basic drafting, but I wasn’t there when it was named. Students had to wait for high school to get beyond the basics of drafting.


Our mechanical drawing lessons were very basic as were the school supplied instruments: drawing board, T-square, 45-45-90° and 30-60-90° triangles, compass, dividers, and drafters scales. All drawings were done in pencil.

In my first year of teaching Industrial Arts, one student was repeating all but 7th grade PE and the shop sections of Industrial Arts. He was unofficially enrolled in advanced IA but had failed the first quarter of the required mechanical drawing class.

I found him to be orally articulate, but inept at drawing skills except tracing. His skill with hand and power tools was acceptable, but his written assignments had unclosed words and random gaps in text.

My first thoughts came from his being left-handed and all mechanical drawing instrument illustrations in the book were for right-handers. Even my demonstrations were given that way. However, I did have him use the right edge of the drawing board for his T-square instead of the common left edge.

It didn’t help that the MD class to which he was assigned was all special needs boys, many with behavior problems. I was continuously distracted by antics and since he was quiet, he didn’t get much attention.

When I evaluated his first drawings, I thought he was being purposely inaccurate by drawing things in reverse horizontally, but not vertically. As we started the second quarter, something from the depths of my mind hit me. Dyslexia?

I had a talk with the school nurse and found that he’d never been referred but had been in ‘special needs’ since starting school. She said she would contact his parents for permission to test him.

I devised my own test. I told the class the next assignment was to draw a cut block in reverse, left to right. His reversal put the block in the correct position. The nurse and school counselor followed up, and a year later he was in regular classes.



Shop Class III


blog post
I admit to having the perception that girls would be more cautious than boys and more likely to follow all safety rules when they were permitted in shop class by eighth grade elective choice in 19741Just reading that sentence made me nearly out of breath.. I was mostly right, about the safety rules that is.


Belt sander lesson
I’m not sure if this occurred with the first set of girls allowed in the shop class or a later time. One cannot assume or predict that every possible safety violation scenario would be covered in machine tool lessons.

There were a number of days that girls couldn’t or chose to not work with power tools and sometimes hand tools. Inappropriate by shop rules clothing, unsecurable hair, and other random reasons trumped many permitted or excused out activities. But some of the rules befitting girls applied to boys also. Long hair, for instance, wasn’t a social issue-it was a safety issue.

Oh – the belt sander lesson. I demonstrated every hand tool and power tool and some power tools several times. One of my demonstrations for several machines was showing the danger of trying to machine small parts with big machines. One great temptation was to sand small parts with the belt sander. My demonstration showed that small parts were too often pulled into the gap between the belt and belt table. To make that demonstration safe for me, I used a stick to hold the small piece.

The sound she projected was more of a shrieked curse word than a blood curdling scream. I knew immediately from where it came. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard vocabulary generally unacceptable for polite society from her. It took only seconds to see the damage to her fingertips-two of them. I asked what happened.

She said, “I didn’t think my (expletive) fake nails would come off when I was rounding them because they were glued on.

I sent her to the nurse and wrote a referral for using obscene language during class time. When I called her mother, she used more of the same expletives than her daughter.


Perceptions of the Principal – IX
Allison in second grade:
The principal is the person who sits in the office and gives morning announcements. He waves at me when I bring the lunch list to the office.
Perceptions of the Principal – X
Arlie in second grade:
The principal is the person who sits in the office and gives morning announcements. I see him when I get my tardy slip. My dad says she is in a meeting whenever he calls the school. My dad didn’t want to talk to her when she called during a Blazers game.
Perceptions of the Principal – XI
Allison in third grade:
The principal is the person my dad said he was in college with. Mom says she’s a snot.
Perceptions of the Principal – XII
Arlie in third grade:
The principal is the person who talks to you when you mess up in the buddy room. Ms. Crampon. has it in for me.


Shop Class II


blog post
I recall only one boy and one girl being injured during my ten years teaching junior high school shop classes. Both were a result of a safety violation by the student.


Bandsaw lesson:

A blood curdling scream1A phrase often used in horror fiction. over the high level sounds of running machine tools in the woodshop caught my attention. My first look around the shop didn’t tell me from where came the shriek. Seeing no student in obvious distress, I did my ‘everything off’ shout, then asked, “Who screamed?” In the near silence, I went workstation to workstation for a person to person check on each person.

When I approached Stu Dent, an eighth grader but first year shop pupil, he was staring out a window like he often did. I asked if he was ok to which he replied, “I cut my thumb on the bandsaw.”

I determined the wound wasn’t stitch worthy, disinfected it, and put a thumb bandage on it. I asked him to show me how it happened so I could perhaps prevent it from happening again with additional instruction. We went to the bandsaw and I saw the power switch was locked out.2Lockout prevents un-permitted use of power machines. I asked, “Are you sure it was this machine?”

Stu said, “Yes, Mr. B. You said we could get a nasty cut if we touched it with the blade moving. I just wanted to see if the blade was sharp enough to do that when it was off.”

One deep exhale was all I could muster to keep from making an unkind remark about my presumed misuse of his natural mental ability.


Perceptions of the Principal – V
Allison in first grade:
The principal is person who stands outside in the morning and says good morning. After school he just waves at the busses or seems to talk to ladies who are waving their arms or men who are standing stiff like not wanting to hit a lady.
Perceptions of the Principal – VI
Arlie in first grade:
The principal is person who sent me home when I made a pistol out of my lunch pizza and pointed it at boys at my table. She wouldn’t let me eat it. She called my mother and gave it to her. The pizza I mean. Mother gave it to me, the scolding I mean, when she picked me and the pizza gun up early from school.
Perceptions of the Principal – VII
Allison in second grade:
The principal is the person who sits in the office and gives morning announcements. He waves at me when I bring the lunch list to the office. Perceptions of the Principal – VIII
Arlie in second grade:
The principal is the person who sits in the office and gives morning announcements. I see him when I get my tardy slip. My dad says she is in a meeting whenever he calls the school. My dad didn’t want to talk to her when she called during a Blazers game.


Shop Class I


blog post
Just a quick reminder – every incident in my school series happened. But the however is that students are composites and specific details are from octogenarian memory, not verifiable documents.
In those days, Shop was required for 7th grade boys1Home Economics was the 7th grade girl requirement. and Advanced Shop was an elective for eighth and ninth. The seventh-grade class was one quarter of mechanical drawing and the other three quarters were about 2/3 woodworking with an introduction to foundry, welding, and electricity.


I don’t remember exactly, but I believe it was 1974 when eighth and ninth grade girls could select shop as an elective. Other than the “Of Slugs IV” incident, I recall only one boy and one girl being injured during my 10 years there. Both were a result of a safety violation by the student. More about that later.

That first shop class with girls included wasn’t the adventure the all-girl English class would be was a few years later, but there were some serious adjustments for all of us.

When the shop building was designed and built away from the main building, boys and teacher restrooms were included. The teachers’ facility was very small and quite basic – room for one person only. Because the boys’ room was between the shop and mechanical drawing classroom, leaving either room didn’t require permission except during an oral lesson.

Then it was 1974 and within minutes of a girl from the shop and a boy from the drawing room needing the restroom, the problem came to light.

As I remember,2Could be totally off base here because all of this happened over 45 years ago. the first solution was to allow girls to go to the main building. There were several issues with that solution–time away from class, etc. We also tried a one key only access with a one person only rule but leaving the key inside the auto-locking restroom was sometimes a (purposeful?) disruption to us teachers when there was a student next in line. Did I mention the very small teachers’ restroom was designed for male only?3That was a sad time when only men were qualified to be shop teachers. I’m not sure why making the teachers’ room boys only and didn’t occur to us first. But except for number two issues that was the more workable.


Perceptions of the Principal – V
Allison in first grade:
The principal is person who stands outside in the morning and says good morning. After school he just waves at the busses or seems to talk to ladies who are waving their arms or men who are standing stiff like ready to fight.
Perceptions of the Principal – VI
Arlie in first grade:
The principal is person who sent me home when I made a pistol out of my lunch pizza and pointed it at boys at my table. She wouldn’t let me eat it. She called my mother and gave it to her. The pizza I mean. Mother gave it to me, the scolding I mean, when she picked me and the pizza gun up early from school.


All Girl Class III


blog post
The title is All Girl Class III, making it rather obvious that this the fourth, if you remember to count All Girl Class 0, in my sub-series relating to my teaching an all-girl eighth-grade English class. Again, at the expense of making a repeated, recurring statement, as I said two or three times before1Bumping up the word count still again for no specific reason., that experience led to my believing eighth grade girls very are much like seventh graders, ninth graders, or just in between.
The actual event didn’t happen in class, but the announcement of it did.


Part of the time I was teaching at the junior high school, I was in the police reserves. I was involved in several school and student related issues as a reserve, but only one manifested in my all girl classroom.

I was trained and had a full commission, so during the summer of 1978 I did vacation coverage for full time officers. Most of my time was on traffic enforcement patrol. One of my first stops for failure to stop at a controlled intersection was a woman who blew a stop sign at speed limit. She admitted the infraction and was courteous in taking the citation. Her story was – distraction by the chatter of four girl passengers. Bet you can guess where this is going!

Soon after the all-girl class was formed and a girl asked something like, “Mr. Benson, are you allowed to pack at school2I did have a concealed firearm at school two times, but that’s a different story and not fitting for here.. How can a teacher be a cop too? Do you know that Mrs. … keeps a loaded pistol in her car?”

I was taken back and was in hesitation mode looking for words to explain the law of that time on packing and my role as a reserve.

She spoke again before I had the words, ”You’re the one who arrested my mother last summer aren’t you?”

English lessons for that day were severely truncated.


Perceptions of the Principal – I
Arlie in kindergarten:
The principal is the person you have to see in the office when you kick Allison at recess. She didn’t listen to my side.
Perceptions of the Principal – II
Allison in kindergarten:
The principal is the person my mother called when I said Arlie kicked me at recess. I pulled Arlie’s hair first, but I didn’t tell Mom or the principal.
Perceptions of the Principal – III
Arlie’s mother Amanda:
The principal is the person who called me at work when Arlie allegedly kicked another student. My boss was ticked when she had to give me the message. I’m texting Ashley!
Perceptions of the Principal – IV
Allison’s mother Ashley:
The principal is the person who wouldn’t confirm it was Arlie who Allison said kicked her. I’m texting Amanda!


 

%d bloggers like this: