Are they Really Special Education Material?
Conventional Wisdom says they are because they score low on aptitude tests that test conventional knowledge like reading, writing and math. Who am I talking about? I’m talking about the Shop Kids.
Yes the Shop kids who usually have their own wing of the school that is 98% and more male and where most of the thugs hang out and talk cars and welding. Many of them feel less than worthy because other teachers refer to them as the shop kids who have no mental capacity for learning what is important.
I currently an supporting students in the shop area in a high school and what I have shared is what the students have told me. Around 70% of the students in this class are labeled Special Education. However, there is really only one person in the class who really qualifies as a SPED and that person is ME!
I have no skill, learning, talent or experience when it comes to machines, autos and other shop related classes. I am amazed daily at the skill these students possess as they draw the specs for their projects, rattle of sizes of wrenches, dies and drills with ease and weld like a master when required.
When in their comfort zone of the shop wing they rule with knowledge and talent that is equal to any of the Conventional 4.0 Students. They can’t do physics but they can design and build a flashlight in one week along with other projects that makes me feel less than adequate to be in their presence.
Sure the students and teacher harass me but it is all in fun and anyone of them will help me as I learn their skills in order to help them with their projects through out the semester.
These students take pride in their work and do not miss a class. Why, because they believe in their talents and they believe in their teacher. You won’t find these kids on the football field or basketball court because they have jobs after school working in auto and machine shops applying their learning.
I don’t suppose the State tests measure and test this kind of knowledge because of the difficulty and length it takes to complete many of their projects. Heck, I would compare any of the project sketches some of them do with any painting from the art class. It’s nice to look at a painting but it won’t help my car run, or flash a light in the dark for me when the power goes out.
So if they were doing Special Education testing in the shop wing I would be the one “Labeled as Special Education.” My degrees don’t mean a thing when it comes to being a smart shop guy.