Students need more exposure to the way everyday things work and are made.
One of the most useless questions you can ask a kid is, What do you want to be when you grow up? The more useful question is: What are you good at? But schools aren’t giving kids enough of a chance to find out.
As a professor of animal science, I have ample opportunity to observe how young people emerge from our education system into further study and the work world. As a visual thinker who has autism, I often think about how education fails to meet the needs of our very diverse minds. We are shunting students into a one-size-fits-all curriculum instead of nurturing the budding builders, engineers, and inventors that our country needs.
Back when I went to school in the 1960s, shop class was the highlight of my day. I can vividly recall the wooden workbenches and the coping saws, hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, and eggbeater drills hung from a pegboard in a neat row. I also loved home economics. Although I was a tomboy, I enjoyed working with my hands in all kinds of ways. The skills I learned by embroidering, sewing, and measuring ingredients, I still use today.