Department header
Bewildering Stories

Michael J A Tyzuk writes about...

‘Trades’ Education

Dear Jerry:

When I went to High School years and years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the one school in the city that was credited with having the most extensive and successful trades program in the system. Even though I believed I had the ability to suceed at a University level (as did all of my teachers) I was more interested in a trades education because with a good trade at his disposal a man is never out of a job for very long.

During the course of my time at that school I witnessed the beginning of the slow decline of trades education. More and more with each passing year the trades programs were trimmed down or cancelled in favor of either an increased academic focus or the ability to experiment with new and improved methods of young adult education. My beloved trades school was being turned into a proving ground for new theories.

I’ve been back a few times to talk to the occasional teacher that I still have contact with. You’d never recognize the place now. The trades programs have been completely eliminated and the school itself has been entirely renovated into a test bed for self-paced education at a high school level. From what I understand the powers that be think that the program is succeeding. I myself don’t know enough to be able to say with certainty one way or another.

At least one-half of high-school age kids don’t need a college/university prep education. The enhanced academics are useless to them. What they need is to learn the skills necessary to keep themselves employed, to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. But they’re not getting it up here any more than they’re getting it down there, and that’s not going to change any time soon.

I’ve had a look at the web pages for the local Catholic and public school systems. Their primary educational focus these days is entirely college prep, with no mention whatsoever of skills training. Makes me wonder what would have happened if I had gone with my abilities instead of the desire to be able to make a living.

I would like to believe that the educators themselves have good intentions, but I don’t think that they do. They’re more interested in preserving their tenure and anytime someone tries to call them on what they’re doing the response is almost universal: “I am an educated professional in a scientific field, and you’re not. Don’t come back until you know what you’re talking about.”

Michael J A Tyzuk, CDOSB
Tarnished Knight
Scotsman With Nae Trews

Copyright © 2006 by Michael J A Tyzuk

Jerry’s editorial on education appeared in issue 184.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) knew a lot about learning trades. He also had ideas on education that are still radical today. Among them, a cabinetmaker is an ideal trade: you can pack up your tools and go where there’s work at a moment’s notice. Farmers are held hostage to wars and the weather, not to mention the politics that plague all other occupations.

How to teach reading? Put your finger under the words and have the child follow along in the book. Just when the story gets interesting, remember that you have an urgent errand to run. No need to tell the child he might read the story himself: he’ll want to! And there’s far more, besides.

Thanks, Mike. Good to hear from you!


Home Page