Hands-On Learning

This op-ed originally appeared in City Weekly on June 12, 2024.

Fox 13 News recently celebrated an auto shop restoring old cars inside Bingham High School, while KSL News wrote about a group of students who built a home. These stories are terrific. But why aren’t programs like this the norm?

For the last half century, schools emphasized college as the next step after high school. Many schools even went so far as to eliminate programs like auto shop and woodworking. Schools pushed college, calling it the “golden ticket” to a better future. Unsurprisingly, today’s students feel disillusioned by the education process.

An April Gallup survey suggests that fewer than half of Gen Z middle school and high school students feel motivated to go to school. I would contend that more students nowadays want on-the-job training.

As a school principal, I saw this trend firsthand. There were so many hard-working and talented students who could do things with their hands. They simply weren’t interested in sitting for six or seven hours a day in a classroom. They needed to be more active.

The conventional school system isn’t built for students like these. For these students, there are lucrative options outside of college.