Reply by Uncle_Salty

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Posted on Shop teachers response to the question about missing safety features "Its too expensive"...

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183 posts in 3099 days

#1 posted 11-20-2010 02:20 PM

Lots to comment on this topic. As a shop teacher (my 23rd year!), I can understand where both the student and the teacher are coming from. A bright student, as Newbie appears to be, would see the folly of not having proper safety equipment and the perils of “lesser talented students,” that would/will be greatly in danger if they allow their focus/concentration lapse even a small bit. Tough situation to be in.

The teacher is also in a tough jam. I’ll address the last item first: The safety test. I have had required safety tests with 100% correct requirements. Pure folly. In addition to keeping some kids out of the shop for 3 or 4 weeks, complete with phone calls from parents, visits by special ed teachers, meetings with adminsitrators, etc., you also have the supervisory problem of having students that passed this 100% requirement working in the shop, and the knuckleheads that couldn’t get 100% (even if you read them the test and then filled in the blanks for them) “loafing” in the classroom. You think the students that don’t pass the safety test are really going to study hard and get a 100% simply because they aren’t working in the shop? Not the way the education system allows us to work, is it? BTW… I can write a safety test that couldn’t be passed by anybody… or couldn’t be failed by anybody. Safety tests are non-referenced, and therefore, not a very effective method of indicating a students’ ability to be safe. It simply measures a students ability record, recall and regurgitate information in a given time frame.

All tools in my shop are optional. I cover them all (different levels of course; no use in teaching the 8th grade student the wood lathe or the shaper: they won’t get to use them until they get to upper level classes!), but I let usually let a student decide the best method to achieve a desired goal (Socratic method… trying to make thinkers out of them). If a kid wants to use the backsaw/chisel method to make a joint, I’ll let them (I teach them this, but it is before I get to the machine woods unit. Most kids see the efficiency of using machine tools, and choose the latter. However, some kids, even good students, don’t possess the confidence or skill to feel like they are comfortable enough to operate some tools.

A riving knife is a cheap safety investment, and can be made from scrap wood. Really can’t disagree with this point. No excuse to not have a splitter of some sort, whether it be a riving knife or a spiltter. The lack of such a device is simply laziness or ingnorance on the teacher’s part. Of course, I don’t know how many other preps the teacher has (drafting CAD mechanics welding machine shop) or other subject areas he teaches (science math PE Ag)... whether he drives a bus before/after school… or coaches three seasons (football basketball track!)... or has a second job to supplement his “hobby” known as teaching. Maybe my assessment of your teacher is a little presumptive.

Finally, the Saw Stop: pretty hard for me to walk into my Principals office and say “Mr. E: We need to spend $3500 on a new table saw.” Of course, I’d justify the rationale for the purchase, try to use Federal vocational monies or State aid or a grant to get the machine purchased, but I don’t know your teachers’ situation. And, in my State, the State Aid per student is expected to be cut another $375 between this year and next year. It is certainly not a good time to ask for the high end stuff… My pal, the PrinciPAL, might tell me that he can’t afford the program any longer, that NCLB and State Regents required coursework has squeezed him, and that I need to start looking for a new place to work.

Besides, I am pretty satisfied with the two Unisaws I currently have… guards and all!

Newbie… there really isn’t a Santa Claus! And, while I certainly wouldn’t do things the way your teacher is doing them, I can understand where he is coming from. I have seen a lot of things in my duration as a teacher at four different schools. Just understand that (I hope!) he is doing the best he knows how to do… or the best he can.

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