Shop Class IV

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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.

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