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.


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