Did you ever take a woodshop class in high school? Was it even offered in your school at the time?
The elective class that used to be popular in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s has seen a decline in the last 20 years for several different reasons.
There have been many debates between schools and their communities about whether or not the woodworking trade should even be touched on in high school, or if there should be more focus on the subject.
Is woodworking something that might be beneficial for this generation of learners? Since more technological-based careers have been on the rise, woodshop classes have suffered more and more in modern high schools.
Here’s the Answer to whether Woodworking is Still Taught in Schools or Not:
It still is, but mostly in rural schools, and even that is on the decline. Woodworking classes are usually taken by choice and only teach students the most basic skills. The class isn’t often found in bigger schools and large cities simply because there isn’t much overall interest among students.
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Is Woodwork Popular in Schools?
Not really, no. With the steady decline in student interest and the push for high schoolers to go to college, woodshop classes have taken a major blow.
While there still is the occasional rural school that has significant interest in the trade, it’s few and far between.
Most schools have turned their woodworking courses into programs or clubs, and some have even absorbed them into agricultural classes.
Woodworking is often taught outside of schools altogether, with people keeping the trade inside their family.
Even with the cultural shift to technology, woodworking and carpentry courses still manage to hang on despite the change.
Why Has Woodworking Been Forgotten?
Students as a whole have become more interested in technology courses and higher paying jobs, which normally call for next-level classes such as computer courses or health and medical classes.
There’s significant evidence to show that having a college diploma can get you a better job, and it’s completely true most of the time.
This is the argument used in high schools as to why students should go after a college diploma and forget trade schools and other opportunities that earn them just as much money.
Students aren’t normally aware that these are even an option, and schools don’t tend to tell students how much money woodworking jobs can earn them.
Without major pushback, schools have all but glossed over career opportunities that are seen as “old-fashioned” or not considered the social norm.
What is the Significance of Teaching Woodwork at Schools?
High schools have been so focused on sending students to colleges and universities that young adults often forget that there are careers outside of college diplomas.
Woodshop can be a metaphorical window into the world outside of achieving a higher education.
Not only can it help students realize their passion, but it can urge them to look beyond attending a university for the next 4+ years and taking out millions in student loans.
Having even the most basic form of a woodshop class can grant students essential common sense when it comes to repairing or building things for themselves.
Even if a student isn’t interested in carpentry or woodworking, it can show someone that there are more options than just the “status quo” of getting a bachelor’s degree in something they might not even find remotely interesting.
Working with your hands is a forgotten trade, and is continuously being overlooked by high schools everywhere.
At Which Schools is Woodwork Being Taught?
You might be able to find some out-of-place woodworking classes in big city high schools, it’s mostly found in small towns and rural communities where carpentry is a natural trade.
Since small schools have a tighter budget, it makes sense why they would lean on such hands-on classes. They don’t have enough money to teach everyone how to be programmers or digital artists like larger schools can offer.
As for higher education, there are some community colleges that have taken up the mantle to educate the next generation of carpenters and woodworkers.
There are plenty of trade schools across the country that can be your next step in a woodworking career as well. Some trade schools even offer the least recognized jobs, such as pyrography and instrument carving.
Woodworking can also be taught outside of any school, with personal mentors who have enough qualifications to give someone a full education while paying their students to work for them. This method and trade schools are considered two of the most popular ways of becoming a professional carpenter or woodworker in general.
What Level of Woodwork is Being Taught in School?
If you’re looking primarily at high school, only the most rudimentary and basic skills are taught to students.
Since the last of the woodshop classes have been cut down to a semester or shorter, there’s not much the instructor can show you.
There are some students who want to be taught more, and that’s usually done outside the classroom, with woodshop teachers finding time in their day to foster new carpenters and woodworkers.
As for trade schools, they can teach students most of the skills necessary to be a successful carpenter, woodworker, or joiner. Students might have to look for professionals in their trade if they want to become a master, though.
Community colleges can help narrow down which field of woodworking is right for you, and give you two years of starting experience before entering a trade school or a mentorship with a master.
Can Woodwork Be Done as an Elective Class in School?
Depending on the school, yes. However, most woodworking lessons have become separate clubs or after-school activities that students can join.
With agricultural-type classes becoming more and more elective, woodshop has been molded into primarily something to study and not actually do.
Woodworking jobs are usually kept within the family, with parents passing down their skills and/or business to their children and grandchildren.
This is another reason why schools have been dropping woodshop, since their isn’t much demand for it outside of families.
If there is enough demand in a community, schools could potentially offer more of it, especially if student interest is high in a particular school.
Are there Woodworking Competitions that School Students can Participate in?
Many schools and old carpentry societies have banded together to create woodworking competitions for students to participate in.
Local competitions can be found via newspaper or school information, or they can be put on by carpenters in the area.
National and international competitions such as the AWFS Fair Fresh Wood Student Woodworking Competition and the Doug Mockett & Co Annual Design Competition are for high school and post-secondary students alike.
These competitions have helped raise awareness for the decline of student woodworkers and often have large cash prizes to woo students into joining.
Having both local and larger competitions can propel students to turn their woodworking passion and hobbies into lifelong careers.
Can One Make a Career of Woodworking if Taught in School?
Taking woodshop classes can definitely put you on the path of becoming a professional woodworker, carpenter, or joiner in the future.
There are plenty of carpenters that started off learning in a basic woodworking class in their high school and are now masters in their field.
Most people find out about the career path because of the short woodshop class they took as high school students and are inspired to find out more about it.
It’s very possible for young men and women to create a career in woodworking since the trade is always looking for fresh talent and skill to add to the mix.
Carpentry, woodworking, and joinery are careers for life, and can give you skills that you can use for a lifetime.
Will Schools Eventually Stop Teaching Woodwork?
There has been such a push for students to become college bound that simpler classes are often forgotten.
With the advancements in technology in recent years, the world might not need as many woodworkers as it did fifty years ago.
Schools might start to bring back woodshop classes if there is push for it in communities, but for now it will probably be offered only in small, rural schools.
Woodworking might be experiencing an all time low at the moment, but it definitely won’t last forever.
There will always be a need for woodworkers, carpenters, and joiners, whether schools will admit it or not.