Bring back shop classes

The downward trend of offering shop classes in U.S. high schools should change as the classes offer multiple benefits others can not.


Kaden Boyer, Writer

Shop classes are declining in schools across the U.S.. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of shop class credits across U.S. high schools has been trending down since the 1990’s. Unfortunately, it seems that many schools do not recognize the value anymore that these classes offer, even though they allow students to grow skills that are beneficial toward many different career paths.

Shop classes provide an opportunity for students to see if they are better equipped to learn in a hands-on environment, which is an opportunity they may not have been able to experience otherwise. Even if they have no interest in the shop itself, it is beneficial for students to discover their most effective learning strategies. 

With there being such a heavy emphasis on STEM related courses in today’s school curriculum, shop classes are a practical way to apply STEM skills to projects. A vocational class such as welding, for example, is using the skills of both arithmetics and design as the basis for its curriculum. 

Shop classes have an advantage that many other classes do not, in which a majority of the class is pivotal with hands-on learning. With the aforementioned advantage shop classes have, in which it can help students discover their best learning strategies, some students will benefit from the interactivity between projects and learning. So even if students want to pursue a STEM related career but are discouraged from the traditional classroom setup, shop classes offer a refreshing change for them. 

The U.S. economy depends on the sector of trade jobs. As such, students who want to work in that field should be given the resources needed by their public school to succeed. The next generation of workers needs to be adequately educated and prepared to ensure a healthy nation that is economically stable and provides for younger and retired generations. 

Many schools who take away the offering of shop classes cite budgeting and safety as the main reason behind it. Shop classes require a lot of materials to operate and have the most injuries occur, albeit generally rare. However, given the listed benefits that these classes can offer outside of trade job skills, such as applied learning strategies and STEM skills, the investment is worthwhile for the betterment of education. And even to re-mention, the trade job skills offered are very valuable to a curriculum in which a sizable amount of students will consider a career path in trade.  

The Career Academy and Technical Center in Bismarck allows BPS schools to participate in vocational-type classes. The emphasis on classes “geared toward career pathways” is specifically meant to allow students to train hands on similarly to a real-work environment. The success BPS has shows that it is practical to keep these types of classes, and that other schools should try similar methods.