Auto Shop, Is It A Dying Breed?

HAPPY MOTORING Teresa is a top-notch mechanic with more than 28 years of experience repairing everything from Porsche’s to school buses. Currently she teaches a basic auto-repair class for women.

Auto Shop, Is it a Dying Breed?

I recently discovered that the high school I graduated from is contemplating eliminating their Auto Shop class. I learned the possible fate from a high school friend on Facebook.This was quite concerning to me since I have been on a mission to help energize our younger generation to enroll in such classes not just to possibly one day become a mechanic, but to express that these types of classes teach more than just working with your hands.

On my weekly Radio Show, Teresa’s Garage, I have used my platform to interview female racers, mechanics, car enthusiasts, auto parts specialists, etc. It has a large following because of it and not just by women, but from men as well.

Healdsburg, Ca. High School Student

When I attended high school, it was forbidden for girls to enroll in Auto Shop since it was not appropriate for girls to be getting their hands dirty. That did not deter me one bit, I took it upon myself to be a self-taught mechanic and to tap into a mechanic’s mind that would be willing to reveal their secrets to me.

After learning the fate of the Auto Shop class, I decided to contact all the School Board members by email expressing the importance of keeping Auto Shop as part of their curriculum. I received an immediate response from the School Board’s Chair who explained why the board was considering removing the class and the challenges that they are facing.

The School Board had been hosting several meetings with public input to discuss the class and a possible solution on how to precede, either keeping it or eliminating it as an offered class.

This all surfaced due to the fact that students simply were just not enrolling, leaving them with a teacher ready and willing to teach, but without enrolled students. Plus the Auto Shop itself over the last several years had fallen into disarray.

But tight budgets and a pervasive emphasis on academics, especially college preparation, contributed to the decline of auto shop across the country what I discovered from my research. During years of overcrowding in several of the Unified School Districts, many shop rooms were converted to class rooms.

Yet many students still need vocational training, not to mention something to interest them enough to earn a high school diploma.

These are not your father’s or grandfather’s auto shop classes, where guys install glass-pack mufflers and cheater pipes on their cars.

It’s much more electronic, digital, computer-driven, in today’s world leaning more towards electric and self driving automobiles. But there is still the need for mechanical technicians especially with many of the mechanics in their retiring years leaving the pool. Who will fill their vacancies?

At high schools, efforts are underway to link surviving auto tech classes with physics, algebra and geometry – all topics important to understanding the modern internal combustion engine. This linkage with such core subjects could preserve auto shop, because it can win state approval as part of a college prep curriculum.

When you dig deep into what students are able to absorb from taking auto shop, it is not just learning to connect things or working with your hands, it goes beyond that. It allows the students to learn problem solving, which is an important part of everyday life and mathematical skills since most of being a mechanic has to do with sizes, metrics, measuring and building. Team building, learning to work together, communications, reading of repair manuals, diagrams, owner’s manuals and schematics-this is just the tip of the iceberg.

With young adults today burying their heads into their electronic devices, we are wasting precious minds and possible inventors by not allowing them to energize their minds and sparking their creative side.

If we look back into automotive history, you will find that Thomas Edison did not just invent electricity, but he also helped Henry Ford with the invention of Briquettes. If they had been preoccupied by electronic toys, where might we be today? So if you have young adults in High School, encourage them to enroll in Auto Shop, if not to be a mechanic, but to empower themselves.

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