Made in America – Blue Collar Skills Not Taught Anymore

John Ratzenberger eloquently makes the case for the unsung heroism of American blue collar work.  The hands-on skills that built this nation used to be taught in shop classes at every middle school in the country; auto shop, wood shop, metal shop under the overarching name of Industrial Arts. 
Students who were not academically inclined often found their first school-related self esteem in Industrial Arts classes where logic and hands-on skills married at the workbench under the guidance of a patient teacher who knew and respected the tools of his trade.  Our country would be better for it!

I worked for 15 years with a bunch of guys who were maestros in the sheet metal and carpentry and machinist trades.  If I expressed a need for a table, typing stand or shelf; they’d make it up in the big sheet metal shop on our site.  If my car had a problem, they’d have it running in no time!  They were co-workers and my on-the-job family.    I guess that’s why I love to watch American Restoration on the History Channel.  Blue collar competence is a many-splendored thing!

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I completely agree. But we can do more than go back 60 years re. education; we can improve on it. Boys need to learn to cook and sew, and girls need to learn to saw and hammer. That is, people need to be self-sufficient to the best of their ability, no matter who they are, because “daddy” or “mommy” isn’t always going to be there. We need to go back to practical education but without the stereotypes that keep some in perpetual second place and others in perpetual entitlement. Here’s something I wrote a while back that I’d be interested… Read more »


I grew up in East Peoria, IL and most everyone worked at Caterpillar. If people looked down on those workers I never noticed it. Most of my friend’s fathers, also, worked at Cat. My Dad started working there during WW II and was happy to have a job. He retired with a good pension and excellent insurance. Cat is still there but many other factory jobs have moved to China. I doubt that this generation would be happy to have a good factory job. Before it is over, when the welfare and unemployment is gone forever, I think they will… Read more »

Dr. Eowyn

I never understood why vocational training has been devalued and neglected in favor of 4-year colleges. The plain truth is not everyone is cut out for college. In the current economy, if you don’t have a college degree (or even if you do), you are consigned to minimum-wage “hamburger flipper” jobs. “Blue-collar” manual labor skills would secure higher-paying employment. Instead, we are hell-bent on “exporting” manufacturing jobs to other countries.

Chuck Bryant

Shop class had to be dropped because nobody wants to fund schools.