UBC Graduate Research

A Case for Secondary School Polytechnic Education Erickson, Bryan 2019-04

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A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION By BRYAN ERICKSON  Diploma of Tech. Teacher Ed. – British Columbia Institute of Technology – 1999 B. Ed. – University of British Columbia – 2000   A MAJOR PAPER SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF EDUCATION in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Education)   THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)        April 2019   © Bryan Erickson, 2019 A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  i  ABSTRACT In the 21st century urban learning environment, where digital technology is relatively inexpensive and access to information virtually limitless, can shop class still be relevant? I believe the answer is yes, more so now than ever before.  Newer curriculum emphasizes competencies over content. Memorization and standardized testing are becoming less consequential to universal skills. There is growing interest in Maker culture and STEM/STEAM educational tracts. However, urban secondary students are largely fixated on traditional academics, rote learning, and the easiest path to an “A” grade. Government educational policies and post-secondary schools are not dissuading this line of thinking.  Polytechnic courses have traditionally been appreciated as an educational resource, providing practical vocational skills to benefit ‘weaker academic students’ in preparation for a potential future career in trades or factory work. These courses are typically viewed as merely hands-on classes where you get dirty and make stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth; these antiquated stereotypical perceptions conceal the benefits. When taught accordingly, polytechnic courses are rich in learning outcomes. Whether a project is assigned or more inquiry-driven, students are required to use creative thinking, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Polytechnic projects encourage students to be organized and able to manage necessary steps and sequences in a set timeframe, demanding the absolute attention of a student to be mindful and work safely in the organized chaos of the workshop classroom.  Polytechnic courses are not a panacea to student cognitive skill development in education. They are and continue to be, however, under utilized venues for empowering students with individual agency, expanding various skills and minds to be better prepared for life and countless future career paths.  A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  ii  DEDICATION  THANK YOU…  To my wife, Jessica MacDuff, my parents, Gail and Robert Erickson, and family for their continuous love, support, belief, and putting up with me.    To the two men who have no idea how much they mean to me and how much of an inspiration they continue to be: My late Nonno, Ivo (Reno) Lino Barichello  A man born to Italian immigrants with nothing, who used his intelligence and hands to build a life and a family.  and   Al Richmond My high school woodworking teacher: he taught me so much and both recognized and believed in the teacher in me.      A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  iii  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS  Instructors of the Master in Education in Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education (Urban Learner 11) cohort, Dr. Karen Meyer and Dr. Al-Munir Vellani of the Faculty of Eduation Professional Development and Community Engagement (PDCE) department for their tireless efforts: they engaged my ideas, stimulated thought, and motivated me and this capstone to be more.    My colleagues, my friends: Matthew Barski, Jennifer Davis, Jon Hartley-Folz, Amy Hughes, Daniel Kamin, Benjamin King, Yates Lo, Mike Louie, Tamara McKay, Scott McKeen, Alain Raoul, and Lori York. Their conversations and guidance has always been, and will continue to be, welcomed and illuminating.     A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  iv  PREFACE The Wood Shop Classroom: A Creative Endeavour Walk through the main doors and you are automatically greeted by the generic scent of wood. No odour in particular since the various species scents and dust have intermingled. The room's ceiling is very high and one of the walls is primarily all windows, making the space feel very open. The shop becomes bright and warm on a sunny day. It is tidy but there is a fine layer of dust on everything. Small, kindling-like fragments of wood wait in bins on the floor by some of the machines. Many short pieces are piled near a saw. There are exotic looking woods stacked on shelves against one of the walls, their colours interesting to the eye. Unfinished student projects are neatly scattered around the shop and in the student storage area; these include cabinets, tables, a bed and more. The machines can appear large and frightening, especially when running. The room can be a noisy space. Oddly, the shop seems louder when only one machine is running but almost symphonic when they all are being used. Most of the machines are on one end of the shop. Work benches take up the rest of the space. This is not your “typical” classroom space. Ordered rows with neatly seated students are nowhere to be found. Here, students work everywhere. When filled with students, this room appears to be organized chaos.   A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  v  TABLE OF CONTENTS    Introduction 1 The Urban Education Landscape and Polytechnic Courses 4 Perspective 4 The Present 5 Experience, Education and the Intangibles 11 Experience 11 Education & Inquiry 12 Intangibles 14 The Mindful Young Adult 17 Safety 18 Patience, Concentration & Self-Regulation 20 Communication 22 Cognitive Processing for the Real World 24 Cognitive Skills Triquetra 26 Creative Thinking 28 Critical Thinking 30 Problem Solving 31 Time & Project Management 33 Individual Agency 34 Closing Thoughts 36 References 38 A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  1  INTRODUCTION We follow a path of discovery, strung like pearls on a thread of curiosity, lending richness to our work. - Krenov, n.d., para. 3  What is a shop teacher? Over the last 100 years, most people from Canada and the United States have identified a shop teacher as someone who teaches secondary school courses, such as woodworking or metalworking as precursor training to a vocation in the trades (Lyons, Randhawa & Paulson, 1991; Crawford, 2009; Rose, 2004/2014). This pronouncement may typically be followed by a personal education anecdote from a bygone era––a humourous and fond story or two about some immature shop prank or a class project they still have somewhere. Ask someone who a technology education teacher is today  and many will say someone who teaches subjects in the realm of computer sciences. The answers will likely vary depending upon who you ask, but will include information technology (IT), electronics, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), educational technology or media. The latter labels can be components of technology education. Unfortunately, they do represent people’s personal beliefs or misunderstandings of that reality. The academic and government jargon define my pedagogical specialty as a Secondary Education Technology Education Teacher (in Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada). BC teacher training in this specialty area begins at a polytechnic institute, resulting in a diploma of Technology Teacher Education in two years. Afterward, students are streamed into a post-secondary school where a year of education with a practicum follows, and teacher-candidates earn their Bachelor of Education degree (B. Ed.). The polytechnic institute’s training program for Technology Education teachers tends to focus on creating a generalist knowledge base of traditional trades, technology (not in the traditional IT sense of computer science or software programming), and practical skills. The university side focuses on teacher training, educational technology and media. It is important to note here that rarely does the university acknowledge A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  2  the unique educational space that is the teaching workshop. There is a failure to honour the differencs of the teaching workshop from a schools’ more typical classroom.   As a Technology Education pedagogue of close to 20 years, and after talking to many new Tech Ed teachers and teacher candidates, I believe a dichotomy exists between these two post-secondary worlds. To some extent, both training and education facilities process secondary education on a theoretical plane, creating a separation of what we should be and do, versus what we do in the reality of the classroom. I hear practicing teachers say academia has no grounding in the actuality of the classroom; so, debate transpires as to the extent of the divide between academia and praxis. Why then, in the teacher-education academic world, do trades or related skills and IT pedagogy exist separately? Can we unify and close the gap? We can. Technology Education is rooted in applied science and practice. Instead of an either-or approach, Technology Education needs to reflect what is happening socially, culturally and educationally. Inquiry-based learning is at the core of BC’s new curriculum. The rise and popularity of STEM/STEAM and Making has revitalized theory with praxis. Trades still matter. As Baby Boomers retire, there are more polytechnic-related jobs becoming vacant and pay well. The average age of a full-time student in polytechnic school is 24 years (BCIT Institutional Planning and Analysis Office, 2013, March), potentially speaking to people turning to the trades after being educated in college or university. What I do, what we do, is neither solely about trades nor technology. Post-secondary teacher training and practicing Technology Education teachers, as myself, need to re-evaluate and realign our thinking. The title for this space already exists. We are Polytechnic Educators: our goal is to teach and empower students through tactile or “kinesthetic problem-solving curricula” (Martin, 2012, p. 368); we are potentially preparing them for a start in the trades, software and skills to draft, electronics and coding to make robots move, and so much more.  A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  3  As Polytechnic Educators in a world never static, there is considerably more our students can gain from our courses than trades training. Not every student who crosses the thresholds of our classrooms (workshop, makerspace, tech lab, computer lab, etc.) is heading into a trade. Nor should the skills we teach them be strictly about doing so. Mike Rose (2014) states that “[t]he best [vocational education] programs…help students become more literate and numerate and teach processes and techniques in ways that develop broader habits of mind” (p. xxix). As such,  all can benefit from the curricula of Tech Ed in the following ways. How do you design or create something? How do you critique your design or work? What do you do when something goes wrong? Maturity and intelligence are required with manual skills and work that transfers to life and other careers. Therefore, a necessary part of our pedagogy is to make these often intangible skills perceptible and salient to students.     A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  4  THE URBAN EDUCATION LANDSCAPE AND POLYTECHNIC COURSES There is knowledge shared by students at all levels that the school world is unreal. There are noted and important differences between sheltered and contrived learning environments and the multidimensional reality beyond the classroom doors. - Stowe, 2006, para. 3  Perspective Within the secondary education system, polytechnic courses remain expensive, potentially unsafe and limit the number of students in a space (Crawford, 2009). Consumable supplies, equipment, maintenance and specialized teachers cost money. This cost reality is an issue for public education. Moreover, polytechnic courses compete with other mandates and initiatives deemed of greater importance within public education systems. For example, as early as the 1980’s, American education and curriculum practices attempted to replace much of hands-on learning with computers and modules. The question became, why support expensive courses which are not feeding students into the trades when the same learning outcomes can be achieved through computer-based courses (Rose, 2004/2014)? This move away from hands-on learning decimated many vocational education programs in the US where educators were tasked to prepare students for ‘white-collar knowledge’ work and computer literacy (Crawford, 2009). Rose (2012) finds this same move in US education today especially “odd” wherein there exists “an anti-intellectual streak and such a strong orientation toward practicality” (p. 10). Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Edge Foundation1 in the UK, argues that while government claims to support creative courses, they measure school performance by prioritizing academic courses (Coughlan, 2018).  In Canada, trades or vocational training was introduced federally in 1919 with the Technical Education Act (Lyons et al., 1991). Today, polytechnic education still exists in Canada,  1 'Edge’ is an independent education charity aiming to revolutionize the UK education system to be more socially equitable, holistic, and curricular comprehensive. - http://www.edge.co.uk/ A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  5  primarily known as Technology Education, or alternatively as Technical Education/Studies, and Industrial Education/Arts. Specific to BC, polytechnic education remains ambiguously labelled Technology Education under the umbrella Applied Design, Skills and Technology (ADST) and additionally contains Business Education, Home Economics and Information Technology. While supported from Kindergarten to Grade 12 (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2018a), the only requirement for graduating BC’s secondary schools, however, is one ADST or Fine Arts course between Grade 10 and 12 (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2018b).  The Present Today’s youth are born into a world never knowing a life without the internet or a smartphone. A constant chorus of concerns exists: entitlement, snowflake-ism, lack of self-control, lack of patience, short attention spans, affordable technology, easy to obtain information, and constant parenting. Like all of us, nature and nurture are defining these children.   BC’s urban and cultural climate over-emphasize the acquisition of a college and university education, which feeds the pre-existing academic-vocational schism. This direction has transpired into a collective, heightened sense of urgency to obtain high grades in secondary school to gain admittance into post-secondary institutions. I teach in an affluent community where parents and students tend to be fully engaged in the belief and processes involved in post-secondary admittance. I believe, our learners enter classrooms not as knowledge-seekers, but rather as status-seekers.  I see grade 8 and 9 students genuinely interested and immersed in the new and unique environment of secondary school, along with the social interaction, extra-curricular activities, and the variety of course options available to them. Once they enter Grade 10, however, students and parents place a greater emphasis on academic courses that count toward A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  6  graduation and post-secondary matriculation. Non-academic electives, such as art, music, and polytechnic courses, appear to hold less significance and relevance.  A societal and cultural stigma endures:  ‘blue-collar’ work is mindless and ‘white-collar’ work is more knowledge-based, therefore characteristically more cognitive (Crawford, 2009). Rose (2004) concurs that in educational contexts “[a] lot of schooling reinforces this way of thinking about human activity…pure and applied, theoretical and practical” (p. 101). Students and their parents have a difficult time ‘seeing’ the bigger educational picture; therefore, their undervaluing of non-academic courses becomes short-sighted. A disparity exists between what school is expected to provide, and what school should provide. Again, Rose (2004/2014) relates this stigma to schools: [D]isturbing on a societal level – taking the school as a miniature society – is that young people at a key developmental juncture have to form their sense of self and their conception of their intelligence within the tensions and restrictions of the academic-vocational divide. (p. 190) But let’s pause a moment and look at a history of such dichonotmies The Western ideology of a separation between body and mind is a start.  Rose(2004/2014), points out that “since Classical Greece, Western culture has tended to oppose technical skill to reflection, applied or practical pursuits to theoretical or ‘pure’ inquiry, the physical to the conceptual” (p. lii). Rose continues to argue that today, culturally, intelligence influences people’s judgments, and this is often true when it concerns occupations (Rose, 2004/2014). Similarly, sociologist Steven Peter Vallas notes that speaking or writing about “work” often contains categorization: ‘blue-‘ versus ‘white-collar,’ mental versus manual. This language reaffirms biases and stereotypes rather than taking note of the commonalties. Rose (2004/201) asserts that thinking in terms of social class division perpetuates the notion that ‘blue-collar’ workers are somehow less intelligent than college or university educated ‘white-collar’ workers. ‘White-collar’ or office work has become known as “knowledge work.” Manual workers themselves have inadvertently supported this line A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  7  of thought because they typically do not want their children to have to work as physically hard to earn a living.  Unfortunately, little educational research analyzes physical work and its cognitive demands (Rose, 2004/2014). Most existing research around cognition in vocational education appears to come from psychology rather than education. Stavenga de Jong, Wierstra and Hermanussen (2006) found research bias toward academic learning rather than experiential learning in vocational education programs. These authors indicate minimal research had been done in vocational schools related to theory and practice. Rose (2014) argues that pedagogically we know hand and brain are united in knowledge application and problem solving; people rely on abstract beliefs when thinking and doing. They have developed these beliefs from resourcing, making mistakes, observing, and informal and formal studying. Rose further proposes that human senses acknowledge or change these abstractions as people problem solve, make perceptible distinctions, and work with their hands. As a polytechnic educator, I believe students can gain much from polytechnic courses, beyond making a nice table, coding or preparing for a vocation in the trades. As previously mentioned, not every student entering the polytechnic classroom (workshop, makerspace, tech. lab, computer lab, etc.) will be entering the trades. The skills taught to them should not be strictly tied to doing so. Pedagogically, students need to be situated and encouraged to encounter something about themselves and the world. The emphasis should not involve altogether what is taught, but how curriculum is taught, and not relying on a “linear teacher-to-student transmission of knowledge” (Martin, 2012, p. 370).  Polytechnic courses are typically non-compulsory in secondary education. Based on my teaching experience in an urban centre, educators often feel the need to market themselves and be obsequious to student and parent perception of what constitutes relevant education. Math, Science, and English marks have importance and benefit because they are prioritized by A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  8  post-secondary institutions for entrance. Therefore, elective courses are deemed unessential since they do not directly affect a student’s matriculation.  A perception persists that polytechnic courses lead only to careers in the trades. Should a student be required or have room to take a non-academic elective? Students will often take courses their parents have judged advantageous, such as a business class or a music class (to make use of those private lessons). Preferably, the student will fortify their transcript by undertaking more senior academic coursework to fill their timetable. Moreover, should a student decide to take a ‘non-purposeful’ elective, there is an unspoken expectation he or she will not be required to put in a similar effort as they would in their academic courses. For this reason, students occasionally use these elective classes as an opportunity to do their academic homework. It is unfortunate many elective-course teachers realize their job security becomes based on how nice you are, how low your expectations are, how much students buy into the projects versus doing it well, and how much you inflate your marks. The breadth of information a teacher can share about the subject means relating skills to the real world, as well as how much knowledge students can learn and personally benefit from. Both, however, often appear to be of minimal consequence. In our modern world, children often stay inside to play video games or surf the net. Patience and skills and habits of dexterity that are acquired through the hands-on making of things are often foregone. In the urban education system, parents and students speak about entering post-secondary for engineering, mathematics and sciences. Pedagogically, thoughts should drift toward how, what, and where students will acquire the various skills necessary for the various vocations in these areas. For example, by studying science students can become medical researchers, nurses or doctors. Surgeries have become more technical, in some cases mechanized. Coordination and dexterity must be present in the use of a scalpel or micro-controlling a less invasive surgical tool. Needles still need to hit veins. Sports can be great for A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  9  developing coordination. Video games controllers do require some fine motor skills, but the hand movements are repetitive and not overly refined. Adolescents can be cultivated to care more about their world and how they affect it. The key will be using technology and fast access to information. As such, young people need to be renaissance people in the ways of seeing, knowing, and doing. It is already happening: kids are using YouTube to learn how to make and build. How do we strike a balance between technology and making?  As a society, we have moved away from knowing how things work, how to fix them, and how to build something new. In this generation, students will need to know how to use technology to learn how they affect the world around them.   Mark Hatch (2014) claims, educationally, it is a bad time for making things in the US. It can be difficult to find shop classes because school systems have focused on students heading to college and university, thereby “depriving all students of skills that they could use [for] the rest of their lives” (p. 21). Additionally, he suggests the US education system is obsolete and constructed for a world that no longer exists; the one we are in is continually, quickly altering (Hatch 2014). I ask myself, how similar is the Canadian system? Currently, however, there is growth in Maker culture and the Science, Technology, Engineering, [Art,] and Math (STEM/STEAM) movements. People want to use theoretical knowledge and apply it practically or at least understand how to do it (Rose, 2004/2014). According to Hatch (2014), “[w]e can’t live in a computer or on the Internet, but we do live in houses, drive cars, wear clothes, use medical devices, play with toys, eat, grow, and live in the real world” (p. 3). This often requires hands-on skills many do not have. A rise in makerspaces or labs (membership-based, do-it-yourself (DIY), open access, fabrication workspaces) has occurred where people can take short courses or autodidact how to produce objects using the equipment (Hatch, 2014, p. 3). These are spaces where like-minded individuals gather and make things, a democratization of tool accessibility that has never existed before (Hatch, 2014). People can create and code electronic devices, then place them in items they have made out A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  10  of metal, wood, plastic or mixed media (Rose, 2004/2014) in a place “with access to the world’s most powerful and easy-to-use machines the world has ever seen” (Hatch, 2014, p. 4). Hatch believes “we can collectively use our creativity to attack the world’s greatest problems and meet people’s most urgent needs” (p. 10).  As teachers, what is happening should fascinate us.  How do we tap into it?  How do we get these worshippers of technology to manipulate their environment in a positive way through technology and their hands? Why not look to polytechnic education to develop these skills? “Skilled manual labor entails a systematic encounter with the material world” (Crawford, 2009, p. 21). Wisdom can be attained in connecting the use of one’s hands to one’s brain.      A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  11  EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION AND THE INTANGIBLES Experiential education, in all its manifested forms uses reflection to make meaning from the lived world. This, in turn, allows people to take conscious action. Whether one is engaged in inquiry, encountering a new reality in the out-of-doors, exploring the meaning of a literary masterpiece, or exercising one’s right to free expression, the experiential process invites people to find their place, or situation, in the world. - Kisaka & Osman, 2013, p. 342  Experience John Dewey (1938) maintains experiences are meaningful only if they provide long term personal growth.  These opportunities may lead a person to seek out further experiences to learn and improve their understanding of the world around them. Rose (2009) similarly claims that “[a] good education helps us make sense of the world and find our way in it” (p. 31). Furthermore, a “holistic,” “humanist” education is one “that allows students to draw from their own unique experience to engage critically with facts about the world in which they live” (Martin, 2012, p. 370). For polytechnic educators, it is imperative to show our students there is more to life than grades. Educators must shift away from a strict focus on abstract educational theory and curriculum. Moreover, building things in a workshop does not mean students become welders or carpenters. There are both tangible and intangible lessons in the pedagogy within polytechnic learning.  For example, there are more educational experiences in building a table than simply the processes of having made a table.   We must consider the adolescent’s lived experience and reality (van Manen, 1982). Tom Martin (2012) makes a similar argument when he says: “Pedagogical strategy should ensure that students relate to a subject with lived experience and learn something that is clearly situated in their larger understanding of the world” (p. 370). Deeper understanding will come from theory and praxis. An argument could be made to approach education from practical needs before theoretical wants. To illustrate, experiencing how a lever works before receiving the formula to A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  12  determine “the ratio required for output force to input” would have greater meaning to students then a vague formula and word problem with a diagram (Hatch, 2014). Or, let’s say a person who has taken a material sciences class for a mechanical engineering degree learns how hard stainless steel is but has no idea until they “experienced it viscerally” when trying to mill it (Hatch 2014). “Practical know-how…is always tied to the experience of a particular person. It can’t be downloaded, it can only be lived” (Crawford, 2009, pg. 162). Hatch (2014) states that “[h]ands-on discovery is an important part of knowledge development and a key creator in sparking a desire to learn” (p. 71).  Education & Inquiry Polytechnic pedagogy can inspire and empower our students to transcend surface learning outcomes. Examples are not difficult to discern. Physically, students improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Mentally, they become mindful, patient, and cognitively develop ways to design and/or construct projects where their attentiveness is required to reason through processes of what are often three-dimensional puzzles. Essentially, they learn “to discern the making of judgments from the feel of things, or the strategic use of tool and body, or the rhythmic spacing of tasks, or the coordination of effort and material” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 67-68). Matthew Crawford (2009) contends “the experienced mind can get good at integrating an extraordinarily large number of variables and detecting a coherent pattern” (p. 168-169).  This necessitates creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.  These attributes are significant in their adult life and are, ultimately, more important than the grades students yearn for in the present.  It is the responsibility of the teacher to foster growth and positively affect students’ experiences (Dewey, 1938). The ability to think critically allows students to look at the world and their place in it.  To be pedagogically competent, it is integral for teachers to assist students in maturing and being capable of imparting to them the things in life worth knowing and A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  13  becoming (van Manen, 1982).  As well, teachers need to educate and provide a basis of knowledge to our students from their own personal experiences and strengths; education should create an environment where student interest is piqued to move ahead in exploration. The “doing of things” is not experiential education, though it may provide a “needed spark.” Experiential education is “a constructivist process that takes place from the inside out, helping each individual make sense of her or his world” (Kisaka & Osman, 2013, p. 341). Such an approach will put students on the path to their individual agency. Inquiry and project-based learning allow students to take ownership of their learning, and “seems to fit some learning styles better than others, but certainly feels more natural” (Hatch, 2014, p. 20). Knowledge provided to students acts as a springboard for them to explore their interests in a topic. Executed correctly, students develop skills to resource and critically think, thereby fueling their educational continuum. These skills are applicable to other facets of life. My personal and professional connection to the polytechnic world has been through drafting and woodworking, while dabbling in jewellery and metalworking. My particular skill set favors a ‘design and build’ approach in my teaching. I agree with Peter Korn’s (2013) declaration: “When you add the creative component of design, crafting becomes a fully integrated application of one’s capacities” (p. 52). Regardless of subject, I divide my enrolled students into proficiency levels. With the inexperienced, the focus is prescribing learning outcomes while allowing for student choice and creativity within a set project. This approach builds a necessary base of knowledge in the specific skills required to make things, while doing so safely. By being ‘open to choice’ within a project, we create student ownership of the work and individualization. A toolbox for proper inquiry develops as the students journey along the path to completion of their work. Senior or more accomplished students can choose what they want to create –– a pure form of inquiry. They have an idea of something to make or do and bring it to fruition. Ideally, they have acquired enough basic knowledge and skills to push themselves. My role is to help A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  14  facilitate their inquiry and unite new knowledge or techniques with their existing skills. Beneficially, older students can model and demonstrate their skill set, potentially inspiring the less-experienced students. In our classroom communities, we should be aspiring toward this learning framework.  Intangibles Author of Engineering and the Mind’s Eye, engineer and historian Eugene Ferguson laments the loss of [tactile] knowledge in the training of engineers and the increased reliance on mathematical abstraction devoid of the empirical encounter with mechanical structures and processes” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 134). Mathematics’ position of supremacy in society and academia lies in its abstraction. The more applied and materialized, the greater its decreased intellectual value. Mathematician Alfred North Whitehead asserts that “technical education involves ‘the art of utilizing knowledge’” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 124). Unfortunately, when asked to practically use math to think spatially, students taking calculus have difficultly relating theory to praxis (Rose, 2004/2014).  “When you get in close to good vocational instruction – just as when you get close to work done well – the intellectual content of the practice is clear, though it may not be expressed in typical academic terms” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 177). Polytechnic courses can develop fortitude, adroitness and reasoning skills which are indispensable for trades work yet universally transferrable to other lifelong enterprises. Richard Sennett (2008) reasons, “Skill is a trained practice…[through] repetitive, concrete, hands-on training. When the head and the hand are separated, the result is mental impairment” (p. 52).  In an online article by Sean Coughlan (2018), surgical educator Professor Roger Kneebone of Imperial College, London, England states, “young people have so little experience of craft skills that they struggle with anything practical.” Kneebone affirms students perform excellently in their academics, but need a more comprehensive education where they can develop dexterity A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  15  and gain general tactile knowledge (Coughlan, 2018). “Such skills might once have been gained at school or at home, whether in cutting textiles, measuring ingredients, repairing something that's broken, learning woodwork or holding an instrument” (Coughlan, 2018).  Surgeons are formally educated and their work considered of higher status; therefore, their work requires and proves greater cognitive skills and intelligence. Yet their work encompasses body and mind like the ‘blue-collar’ tradesperson. A surgeon epitomizes the dichotomies that exist in society but they collapse under deeper inspection: knowledge work and manual work, abstract and concrete, reflection and technique (Rose, 2004/2014). Rose stresses, “I am not suggesting – and I want to be clear about this – that surgery is parallel to carpentry or plumbing…It would be simplistic and reductive to equate them” (p. 148). If we are to give polytechnic education and the variety of cognitive skills, which can be gained through tactile learning, then we need to “catch instructive glimpses of similitude, resonances at the level of hand, eye, and brain” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 148). Rose defends further, “the sequencing and pacing of tasks in a range of occupational contexts, or the strategic combining of the senses in service of both the tradesperson’s and the surgeon’s diagnosis” (p. 149). He contends: [A] surgeon’s knowledge of anatomy has to be physical. He or she will be working in tissue, moving it, tugging on it, cutting into it. Knowing is visual, tactile, practical. …[D]irect touch is critical…with experience, [they] develop the ability to feel through their instruments (pp. 151-153).  Students can similarly develop that ability through the skillful use of hand tools providing feedback to the hand. Surgical judgment comes from physical knowledge, technical finesse, and procedural skill and “important craft values are woven through this competence: persistence, self-monitoring, knowing limits” (p. 156). With those thoughts in mind, let us hypothesize a few scenarios. A woodworking student, using a sharp chisel to pare off some excess wood, could potentially be the next great cosmetic A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  16  surgeon, shaving bone off that Roman arch. Hopefully, they are not impatient and rush the surgery. Using a power drill in secondary school shop class certainly provides some early practice at skills which will be used later in medical school. Most people would agree, the longer you do something the better you are at it. Fair assumptions should be made that a doctor has developed the adequate skills to use a medical drill to properly place screws to set a fractured femur. Perhaps a student in the metal shop, machining thousandths of an inch off some cold-rolled steel bar, forges into the bio-tech industry and develops new technology for amputees. Conceivably, a student working diligently in jewellery class, designing and crafting sterling silver pieces showcases them in a future portfolio to prove to a dental school in England they have the patience and dexterity to work on minute objects in a constricted space, like a mouth. Welder and teacher at Los Angeles Trade Technical Community College, Lisa Legohn states: “A bridge is only as strong as its weakest weld. You’re like a surgeon, but you’re working on metal” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 127). Rose (2012) argues for the “kinesthetics and thought” (p. 8) inherent in welding. When laying a bead: pace, distance from instrument to metal, angle, heat level, and control are all considered. He goes on to say these “physical routines can become nearly automatic but still involve some level of awareness and monitoring” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 40). Welds involve applied science as they require an understanding of gases, electricity, and metals along with knowing which style of welding or weld would be optimum for the material and situation. When reading working plans, applied math is involved along with reasoning (Rose, 2004/2014). Rose (2012) speaks to the drawings welders use and the analysis and visualization involved:  How multiple pieces will fit together. What happens to them when you weld them? And the arithmetic they’re learning or reviewing is materialized in an actual building, and they have to imagine arithmetic in three-dimensional space and solve problems and make judgements using it. (p. 8)   A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  17  THE MINDFUL YOUNG ADULT Mindfulness, first of all, implies intelligence, a mind knowledgeable and alert. The word also connotes a heightened state and comprehensiveness, an apprehension of the ‘big picture,’ mentioned earlier, and, as well, a cueing toward particulars, and a vigilance for aberration.  - Rose, 2004/2014, p. 15  We need to find a way to make students mindful. I am not speaking about the modern meditative movement, but the good old days of being conscious and fully aware. Being present. “Cognitive scientist Davide LaBerge uses mindfulness as a synonym for attention” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 15). Maxine Greene’s (1978) concept of “wide-awakeness” is similar, speaking to an “attentiveness…[and an] interest in things” (p. 42). Crawford (2019) postulates that in fixing things, one’s disposition must be cognitive and moral, as repairing something properly requires attentiveness. To be mindful in a polytechnic course means students need to be aware of the space they are in and their place in that space. It also means being aware of their safety and others’ safety. As the processes of designing and/or making commence, students will have to develop patience. They have to willingly slow themselves down because things do not happen in seconds, which is unlike their typical personal experiences of Googling information or their consumption of goods by simply walking into a store. They become cognizant of the time and effort required to develop something from scratch, in a structured environment, which can be used to prepare students for life and occupy them with individual agency and fortitude. “The work itself when seriously engaged – the traditions and values one acquires and the complex knowledge and skills developed – gives rise to a virtue of practice, an ethics and aesthetics, and a reflectiveness intermixed with technique” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 101-102). Rose also contends “[t]he gaining of skill and the attendant acquisition of knowledge, even if delivered in reductive ways, has the potential to spark the play of mind and contribute to broader views” (p. 127).  A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  18  Safety2 Polytechnic classes are the ideal environment to educate young people about personal safety and the safety of others. A workshop classroom is a dynamic space where students will have a trained and vetted educator who is often overseeing 20+ students in their use of hand tools, power tools and machinery. Students are required to behave in a mature manner while using equipment safely and properly. They are in control of the machine with minimal concern of another person sharing the same machine or space around it.  The workshop classroom is not a full-fledged industrial workshop; nevertheless safety is of utmost importance. Attention to yourself and others in the room while working on power equipment can be the difference in having five or four digits on your hand. Parents may not desire their child’s enrolment in a polytechnic class because of the inherent risk. A fair and realistic concern. Many have heard of at least one industrial accident horror story. Why put my child in a situation where they could damage an eye, lose some fingers or rip some hair out? A reasonable question could and should be asked. Why do parents seem to think their child is responsible and mature enough at the age of sixteen to get in a 2000lb machine and move it from point A to B? Just about everyone learns to drive. So is it safer than using a table saw? There is no BC law mandating adolescents to take lessons with a trained instructor to learn to drive. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)3 reports there were an average 300,000 crashes per year from 2013 to 2017 (2018). During the same time period, an average of approximately 42,000/year crashes involved youth aged 16 to 21(ICBC, 2018), working out to 14% of all crashes. Yet somehow, polytechnic courses are deemed more unsafe for the child. Perhaps, it is just a further excuse for the education system or parents not to have these classes.  2 No statistics were found regarding injuries and fatalities for BC Tech Ed classes. The Ontario School Boards’ Insurance Exchange had a document about injury claim costs, not statistics regarding student injury. Other information was older and related to US schools.  3 All utilized ICBC youth 'crash’ statistics are the combined totals of “Incidents” and “Injured youth.” A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  19  Occupational Health and Safety Regulation defines workers under 25 years old as a “young worker“ and any worker, regardless of age, new to a hazard, location or workplace as a “new worker” (WorkSafeBC, 2019a). In 2017, in BC, the statistics for injuries to workers under age 25 is 13%. (WorkSafeBC, 2019b). The following is a list risks or reasons why new and young workers are injured:  - “Inexperience” - “Lack of training, orientation, and supervision” - “Lack of understanding of their workplace” - “Lack of preparation for the workplace” - “Exposure to more dangerous jobs” - “Hesitancy to ask questions” (WorkSafeBC, 2019a)  Additionally, in 2017, the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada reports that of a combined 252,459 claims (work-related injury or disease) and fatalities, 31,464 were workers between the ages of 15 to 24 (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2019). A figure working out to 12.4%. Unsafe things could happen and potentially be happening around students in the classroom, but the space is managed by a knowledgeable mentor; here is what you need to do on this machine to keep yourself safe; this is what you need to do on this machine to keep people nearby safe. A polytechnic classroom is a more controlled environment than an adolescent in a car surrounded by other vehicles on the road. Certainly, by taking on a polytechnic class, students are developing a mindset for personal safety which can be used in their personal life and any workplace.     A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  20  Patience, Concentration & Self-Regulation Today’s technology gives youth access to just about anything, with the push of a button or the swipe of a screen. Quickly obtained information and interactive happiness with a dopamine high is ever constant. Fast internet connections have finely tuned adolescents with short attention spans. This has created our current dilemma in education: a lack of student focus and concentration. Adolescents could once be lectured through a disciplined approach to schooling, ‘teacher-centred’ education, an approach that “alienates learners with real experience from the start” (Goldrick-Rab, 2012, p. 27). Though the pendulum has swung towards more ‘student-centred’ education, anything not holding a pupil’s attention is not worth their time. “To attend anything in a sustained way requires actively excluding all the other things that grab at our attention” (Crawford, 2015, p. 15), necessitating a personal drive toward self-regulation. The level of ability of a student to direct their attention assists self-regulation by leading their attention away from whatever may be distracting (Crawford, 2015). Student willpower alone does not contribute to self-regulation, but how they “strategically allocate their attention so that their actions aren’t determined by the wrong thoughts” will (Crawford, 2015, p. 16). Learning must be worthwhile for students and, as pedagogues, we have profound and valuable knowledge to execute a useful curriculum. Undertaking it is another matter entirely (Goldrick-Rab, 2012). How do we resolve this? This is a meaningful question with a variety of solutions. The answer explored here is inquiry and project-based learning. By facilitating ‘student-centric’ projects based on content which must be covered, students can focus on their interests in a topic. They can use their lived experiences as part of a solution to an assignment. Optimistically, ownership of a project and its solution will hold their attention longer. Another opportunity lies in teacher facilitation of ‘student-centred’ learning. Pedagogically, educators need to bring everything back to the real world. Teachers need to tell students of their personal experiences in post-secondary, profession, and personal life to indicate A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  21  the relevance of being patient. Why is something relevant? What can be gained from taking your time with something? Where can you use or do something like this? Making something takes time; it will require patience. Patience cannot be taught but it can be developed. Sitting and carefully chiseling small shavings off a tenon to make it fit perfectly requires persistence, dexterity, and coordination. Soldering a ring and making settings for a stone will do the same, in fact, on something much more minute. A more detailed example: my Level 2 drafting students produce a basic set of plans for a single floor lake house over the entire school year. This assignment is purely design-based; we do not get heavily into the specifics of materials and proper construction. These items are covered on a rudimentary level along with consideration of aesthetics, functionality, and environmental influence on the overall design. Unfortunately, they do not grasp how long it takes to design and make plans, so the greatest issue encountered by my students is patience.  Understanding the required commitment to perform a task or complete a project is a problem for all students because they do not have a realistic grasp of the time it takes to do things. The word patience does not always quite capture the right sensation; there needs to be “a sense of engagement, a sense that these problems are worth solving. You give yourself over to the task; it takes what it takes” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 110). Facilitating my drafting student’s work necessitates prompting them to how many hours they are actually working on the project in relation to their class time and reality. Using the architect as an example, I remind them: when making plans you may have a number of ideas. You are dealing with homeowners who will have a vision and make you go back and redesign things. A structural flaw may exist and the engineer will have you make important changes. Alternatively, your plans may be denied in permit causing further alterations. The level of involvement of an architect or the scope of the project dictates the length of time they are realistically attached to a job.  A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  22  Patience cannot be directly taught. For students to learn patience they must experience it. They see something online and think they can do it. Then something fails or it takes too long, and they become quickly disheartened and disengaged. They need to see the purposefulness in the exercise and in making mistakes. Polytechnic courses can emphasize this. Items cannot be designed quickly. Built even less quickly, as projects take time to go from conception to completion. Ultimately, it is trial by fire: the project gets made or not, as it relies on the fortitude of the individual student.  Communication Communication is an important lifelong skill. One so present yet its relevance is hidden or diminished in the everyday. “[R]espectful and engaging education recognizes the student as capable and as a crucial half of the teaching process, exploring and making meaning alongside the teacher” (Martin, 2012, p. 369). Being clear and concise with one another should minimize misunderstanding.  Talking to students about safety and their projects creates dialogue. As the workshop classroom requires students to behave in a mature manner for personal safety, the discourse between a polytechnic educator and their students is very distinctive. When a student is using a machine and about to make a horrific mistake, there is little time to be kind, compassionate, and measured. What there is time for is clear directives and action. Hopefully, there have been enough interactions establishing respect and care between student and teacher. Words can sometimes be sharp and cutting in the moment. This should be followed by calmer reflection, explaining why the incident could have been tragic. Discussions about class time and project work can mimic the dialogue between boss and employee. There are regular teacher-student talks about expectations and work to be done. “Why were you late? What are you thinking about doing for the next part of your project? Your idea is better. Run with it.” These types of exchanges happen all the time and reflect work life. A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  23  In the previous section, I used my lake house project as an example. Expanding on it here, my students should have fulfilled the parameters of the project for the term. A list of corrections or thoughts on their work is provided, and I meet with them individually to discuss these items. The conversation is “dialogic and problem-focused” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 61). My dialogue may entail: “What was your thinking in making this design choice? Realistically, this cannot exist so let us try and adjust and see if we can get the design there. Do you not see this does not line up with this here?” Exchanges between student and teacher should lead to meaningful dialogues students can hopefully reflect on and use later in life to direct how they communicate with others. As teachers, it is essential we be open to other forms of thinking. Conversing with students in an open manner will eventually lead to a difference of opinion. Through modelling what it means to have open discussion, we can teach students how to be co-operative, principled and respectful of others’ individual rights and perspectives while maintaining their own beliefs or altering an opinion. We need to educate for global citizenship through cosmopolitan values: “universality plus difference” (Appiah 2008, p. 92).     A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  24  COGNITIVE PROCESSING FOR THE REAL WORLD Victoria and Albert Museum Director Tristram Hunt argues, “Subjects like design and technology, music, art and drama are vitally important for children to develop imagination and resourcefulness, resilience, problem-solving, team-working and technical skills…which will enable young people to navigate the changing workplace of the future and stay ahead of the robots, not exam grades.”  - Coughlan, 2018, para. 17  Terms commonly found publicly, also used in job classification and educational policy, are “intelligence” and “cognition.” Rose (2004/2014) emphasizes that Intelligence “is the ability to learn and act on the environment, to apply knowledge to new situations, to reason, plan and solve problems” (p. xliii). He states that “cognition” refers to those mental processes involving “perception, attention, memory, knowing, judging” (p. xlii). Rose believes cognition is deeply linked to values and motives, long-term and immediate goals, and life experience. If one’s life and personal history is tied to cognition, then Maxine Greene’s philosophy that people’s personal “landscapes” can help them to choose transcendence over passivity, allowing for ‘wide-awakeness’ (mindfulness) and freedom (Greene, 1978). Cognition as a path to autonomy and agency. Students are expected to become knowledgeable with a curriculum deprived of meaningful material or purpose. Curriculum developers make assumptions about student learning and cognition that strongly disrupt their intelligence, ability, or motivation (Crawford & Rose, 2012). Crawford and Rose opine: The material is not presented as intrinsically valuable, but as a means to an end, passing the test – just another hoop to jump through. Whereas if what you’re doing is…building a tube-frame chassis for a race-car, then suddenly trigonometry becomes very interesting. (2012, p. 3)  A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  25  André, Carmo, Abreu, Estevens, and Malheiros (2012) contend our “knowledge-based society” looks for creativity and innovation; education and learning has changed to develop people who can “easily communicate, read and share information, work in teams and think creatively (p. 7). Rose (2009) agrees and argues, “Ours is an economy built on information and high technology and requires a new kind of worker: creative, problem solving, skilled in collaboration and communication” (p. 75). In this type of society, “[t]eachers’ experiential knowledge, along with research” evidence that informs practice can contribute significantly to improve schools” (Kanu & Glor, 2006, p. 113). Teachers’ education and experience should be able to nurture their students learning. The best way to do this is through problem-based inquiry utilizing student interest and their “lived curriculum” (Aoki, 1993) as individuals have their own unique story. Defined by The American Heritage Dictionary, skill is “proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. xlv). This definition holds true when speaking of manual work. Present North American culture has appropriated the word ‘skill’ to describe desired abilities needed in ‘white-collar’ knowledge work (Rose, 2004/2014). ‘Blue-collar’ workers are left feeling their skills, intelligence, and work have been demeaned and devalued by politicians (Crawford & Rose, 2012). These skills are the ones I am speaking for. Where society looks to segment and segregate intelligence and cognition into hierarchal castes, I seek to unify the separation and educate to end this existing ignorance. There is cognitive value in all work, some of it just involves a little more grime and dust than others. Rose asks:  How might it productively unsettle our thinking about intelligence, social class, and education to consider the foregoing account in terms of [knowledge] libraries and aesthetics, of differential diagnosis, of conceptualizing, planning, and problem solving, of the intimate connection between respectful human relation and cognitive display? (2004/2014, p. 66) A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  26  Polytechnic education is not always the tidiest way to learn. What it does provide is a venue to unify hand and brain to strengthen universal cognitive skills. Using a “design and build” approach to polytechnic education, students create a solution to a problem or need. As ideation moves to realization, students must be able to critically think about their plan. There may be flaws, they will need to utilize their existing knowledge and be adaptable to new skills to lay a path to their proposed solution. “Truly thinking something through is often messy, awkward, moves in fits and starts, and can be filled with wrong turns and silence” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. xxii). Undoubtedly, the adversity along the way requires them to troubleshoot issues prior to the execution of the final product. This will require mindfulness, time, and project management. Demonstrated above in the most straightforward way is the process of ‘designing and building.’ Re-read the previous paragraph dropping the first sentence. Described is a process of teaching students to learn and use universal cognitive skills, which will create fortitude and individual agency that is important in post-secondary, work, and life. “[T]hinking is inherently bound up with doing” (Crawford, 2009, p. 208). There is “complex interplay of the social and the mechanical. The choreography of hand, eye, ear and brain. The everpresence of abstraction, planning and problem solving in everyday work” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. xl).   Cognitive Skills Triquetra How do you design or create something? How do critique your design or work? What do you do when something goes wrong? In such circumstances, the following terms are regularly heard: creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving. These are not interchangeable terms because they are not the same. They are distinct cognitive skills which interconnect and dovetail. Some may believe that you start with one cognitive skill and progress to another, but that is not the case. Instead, creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving are a trinity of cognitive skills that are interwoven. Not the individual points of a triangle but instead parts of A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  27  Celtic triquetra. These skills are always fluid, never static. At any stage of the cognitive process, a person may need to use one of the skills to move a project or job toward completion. The calibre to which these skills develop depends on the organizational quality of the repetitive process (Sennett, 2008). Figure 14 Cognitive Skills Triquetra  - Madboy74, 2012  These skills are not intuitive; they must be learned. A benefit to polytechnic courses is the routine nature in the making. Safe use of the machines and preparing material is generally the same and repetitive. Embedded and explicit knowledge are involved in understanding how to make something, and in the cognitive skills used in the overall process. For instance, wood gets cut in the same way on the table saw but what that piece is for and what is happening to it next is part of a process involving the varied layers of cognitive skills and planning. The more these skills get used, the more the knowledge in any process of making or doing something becomes inferred (Sennett, 2008). “In the higher stages of skill, there is a constant interplay between tacit knowledge serving as an anchor, the explicit awareness serving as critique and corrective” (Sennett, 2008, p. 50).  4 Author has added the text: creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving.  A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  28  Creative Thinking There is always a human need and problems requiring solutions necessitating drafted responses. Creative thinking is the start and requires students to perceive the complication and design as resolution. There may be multiple ideas but this is part of the creative process. Psychologist D.N. Perkins reasons, “creative ability is exceptional versions of familiar mental operations” to which Rose adds it “encourages an appreciation of the significance of cognitive processes that, because of their frequency and familiarity, are taken for granted” (2004/2014, pg. 72): As routines of assembly, knowledge of structures, the ability to visualize, and material mathematics interact…it would be difficult to mark exactly what is ‘concrete’ and what is ‘abstract.’ Such distinction blurs in real-world problem-solving tasks. (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 98) “I need to solve this. How do I make it happen?” The process could be quick or drawn out. It is important to be mindful, but it is pure ideation. This is the solution, or possible solutions, to a problem. It is a very black and white: problem/solution. In real life, this could be the need to make a custom furniture piece for a client, a plan to sell a house, what to make the kids for dinner, or, in keeping with my earlier analogy, a driving route from point A to point B.  In my Level 1 Woodworking class, students have the opportunity to build a table. A set project for the less inspired and, for those with a little more fortitude, an opportunity to design their own. I will use the latter option of the project here and the following two sections because it is safe to assume people know what a table is; therefore, they have some kind of lived experience with a table’s various looks, features, and functions. A table “is thought materialized, and as such embodies a record of interplay of general principles, specific artifacts, and human need” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 98). The following is not an exhaustive list of things students may want to consider during their ideation. A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  29  Simply, the problem laid out before the student is that a table is required. Creativity is going to be required to design a solution. To communicate their ideas, I have taught my students how to do basic 3-view (Front, top and right side views) drawings with dimensions, isometric sketch(es), and a materials list with finished and rough measurements. We then sit and go over the feasibility of their design. - What type of table?  - Coffee, side, dining, entry, desk, etc. - What are the dimensions? - Does the table have to fit a particular space? - Based on the style of table, what are there traditional measurements? - How should it look? - What material needs to be used? - Cost? - Who is the end product for?  - What shape are the legs? - Are they standard, tapered, or shaped in some way? - Are there skirts?  - If not, how are the legs supported? - The table top  - Is it going to be a slab or lamination? - Will the top have trim?  - If so, what type? - Size of overhang? - Any edge or corner treatment? - Are there any other special features? - Drawers, carvings, inlay, hardware, etc. A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  30  - What type of joinery should be used? - They type of finish to be used?   Critical Thinking “Education…should serve to develop a person’s critical analytical faculties, rather than reproduce static information” (Martin, 2012, pg. 370). The solution is still just an idea. Maybe some sketches on a page. Maybe the chicken scratch of an outline. Once a response has been formulated and chosen, it needs to be applied. Critical thinking: the how and the feasibility.  Our table is designed. - How is it going to be made? - How long will the project take? - Does the plan need modification, simplification, both? - Based on timing? - Available equipment and resources? - What inherent skills need to be utilized? - What are the necessary processes? - Where do you start? - What order do the pieces get cut or manufactured? - What needs gluing? - What order should be considered for the construction of the joints? - What new skills may be required? - Are there any foreseeable problems that can be solved early in this process? - Start making.   Often multiple paths can be followed in order to get to the final solution. “[T]he intellectual virtue of judging things rightly must be cultivated, and this is typically not the product of detached contemplation” (Crawford, 2009, p. 60). What are the necessary processes? How long A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  31  will it take? What are the costs? What is the level of quality required? Is the solution even possible? Critically thinking through a response to a need becomes important and the exercise in doing so is applicable to any vocation.  Problem Solving Issues will arise and there is a need for students “to develop a certain resourcefulness and a problem-solving orientation to things” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 58). When the thought out and well planned goes awry we are left to troubleshoot. According to Crawford (2009) “in the real world, problems don’t present themselves [in a] predigested way; usually there is too much information, and it is difficult to know what is pertinent and what isn’t” (p. 36). Problem solving is a significant skill to have and a “clear choice for curriculum material, rather than workbooks and memorization” (Martin, 2012, p. 370).  How you react is important. Patience and persistence are major benefactors. Integral to the process is to react with resolve and working through what you know; a systematic method useful in professional and academic situations. Having a mental library of alternative solutions encourages sequential divergent thinking (Rose, 2004/2014). “The open relation between problem solving and problem finding...builds and expands skills” (Sennett, 2008, p. 38). What went wrong? How do you adapt the solution? Do you need to? Maybe you need to go in reverse and start all over or redo some things.  Our table is coming together, but there are few flaws. This is to be expected when making things. How do we fix the mistakes?  - Is the client not happy? - How do we make the table look the way they want? - Is the project falling behind? - Can the deadline be moved? - Will staying late help? A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  32  - Are there cost overruns? - Does something need to be started over? - Does something just need to be recut? - Will many measurements have to be changed? - Some equipment broke. - Is there another way to produce the necessary pieces or joinery? - How to fix a loose joint? - A piece is slightly protruding.  - What tool or tools should be used? - How to secure the project so it does not move during touch-up? - If it is a finishing or look issue, can the flaws be repaired or hidden?  A cut can make a piece too short. A client needs supplies yesterday but you do not have a full order to send. A bridge design fails where ‘ice-bombs’ fall on cars in cold weather. An improperly engineered upper parking lot/roof collapses into a grocery store. Everything was thought through but mistakes were made, material failed, etc.  MIT economist Frank Levy states, “[Problem solving] is knowing what to do when the rules run out or there are no rules in the first place. It is what a good auto mechanic does after his computerized test equipment says the car’s transmission is fine but the transmission continues to shift at the wrong speed” (Crawford, 2009, p. 35). With experience, common errors can be rectified because the knowledge has become tacit. There are tools in the cognitive toolbox that is your bag of tricks. If it is something new, with the cognitive skills you have developed, you will be able to resource an answer through initiative and agency.     A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  33  Time & Project Management Among the challenges of thinking through a project or job is its management. The cognitive skills triquetra correlates to time and project management, two separate but related issues must be considered. A problem has been thought through and a solution conceived. How does one get from A to B? What paths can be taken? Next, how long will this all take and what are the factors influencing a slow or quick completion?  In the adult world, time is often money. The longer a job takes to get done, the less one gets paid. Alternatively, the job may not be yours if you take too long to do things. Project management can incorporate time, especially if there is a completion date on parts or everything in a job. Ultimately, project management considers the scope and sequence of tasks involved. Student capability and success in managing a project relates to maturity and interest in the subject. Instructors must emphasize the importance of cognitive skills. Unfortunately, you can tell students until you are blue in the face about developing skills to manage a project, but you are often confronted with resistance. ‘Shop class doesn’t count toward my post-secondary admission,’ therefore studying for a math test will take priority over a Drafting class assignment. The key is patience, checking in and reinforcing their knowledge. Often students will ask what to do next. The response should be a reversal of the question. What do you think you should do next? There should be a peppering of follow up questions. Did you look at the plans? What have you done? How do you usually start this? Have you considered this, this and this? Now what do think you should do?      A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  34  INDIVIDUAL AGENCY Fundamental to the whole process [of becoming wide-awake] may be the building up of a sense of moral directedness, of oughtness. An imaginativeness, an awareness, and a sense of possibility are required, along with the sense of autonomy and agency, of being present to the self. - Greene, 1978, p. 51  In his book, Shop Class as Soulcraft (2009), Matthew Crawford speaks to a number of ideas, the central one being for individual agency. Today, people are feeling hollow, dissatisfied, and powerless in their lives and workplace as they are not intellectually stimulated. Two ideals, “meaningful work” and “self-reliance” overlap and are tethered to “struggle for individual agency” (Crawford, 2009, pg. 7). People are feeling stupider and long for a literal and active hold on their environment. That yearning has people raising chickens in the city, knitting, making clothes (Crawford, 2009). That desire for control of their world is empowering Maker culture and STEM/STEAM programming. Crawford (2009) draws a connection between technology, passive consumption and autonomy, which work against individual agency. The rationale: as technology improves we buy more things to make our lives easier, thereby freeing up more time. Having more time means you have more freedom, more autonomy. He argues this is not true because should something you need break down you now have to wait on it to get fixed. You need to hire someone to do so. You are no longer in control. Your things are controlling you. If you could make or repair things this may draw from your free time, but you are now in control of your things. Master of them. Having confronted real things, you are now rich in real knowledge and are self-reliant which, Crawford claims, gives agency and freedom. If schooling does right by its students, then graduating pupils should have received a comprehensive education empowering them with knowledge and resources preparing them for post-secondary, work and life. These still-developing adolescents should be reasonably self-A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  35  reliant. There should be a spark or fire in them yearning to still learn and grow. Education, if we are walking the talk, should be a lifelong undertaking. Facilitation of understanding the extension/connection of ‘person to product’ begins a process creating individual agency in students. Seeing the interconnection of things poses the need for “a stop-and-think orientation” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 59). Knowledge of how things are developed and methodical in how to use that information will generate “a skillful and systematic encounter with the material world” leading toward an understanding which produces agency (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 60). It is about instilling in people a mindset that they can be resourceful not only cerebrally but physically. “Spiritedness, then may be allied with a spirit of inquiry, through a desire to be master of one’s own stuff. It is the prideful basis of self-reliance” (Crawford, 2009, p. 55). One can take an object and manipulate it either through maintenance or construction. They are in control over what they are doing and of their environment through “skillful and systematic encounters with the material world” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. 60); this leads to individual agency. These are acts of self-determination, undertakings preparing students to politic with true autonomy in the real world.     A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  36  CLOSING THOUGHTS So what is the answer to the challenge of engaging the heart in education? Get real. Real life engages the intellect and the imagination. Crafts are an excellent way to bring the real world into the classroom.  - Stowe, 2006, para. 5  Students are not clones. Each comes with their own culture, religion, politics and personal history. If a project can be tailored to student interest, you will typically get more buy-in as they will take ownership of their learning. Should they become self-motivated with vested interest, students will then nurture skills which are useful in many facets of their lives. “Observing students allows us to get in close to skill as it develops, to the basic kinesthetic and cognitive moves that emerge over time” (Rose, 2004/2014, p. li). Everyone needs to be able to see a problem, design a solution, be creative in their approach and execution, and be critically reflective of the product. Polytechnic courses are an effective venue to develop universal competencies, fortitude and agency. This does not make such curriculum a panacea. It is an existing, under-utilized curriculum because polytechnic courses are not seen as academic. The crux of my argument addresses the importance that polytechnic education can have in the maturation of adolescents’ mental processes, in preparation for the adult world outside of the institution of school. In education, curriculum has traditionally focused on student ability to memorize course content and then their ability to accurately regurgitate information in some standardized format to determine their achievement levels. Polytechnic courses have traditionally been similarly focused. Teach students a certain set of skills to go from beginning to end in making a set project. A prescribed outcome is not the end of the world, but ultimately what is the purpose?   In a constantly shifting world where people no longer remain in the same job for decades, employers are looking for adaptable employees. It should be the role of education to prepare students for the real world. This would require a shift in the educational paradigm where standardized learning outcomes become increasingly less important than student competence. A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  37  Parents, children, educators and post-secondary institutions need to decide whether the streamlined educated child is better off than the comprehensively-educated child. There needs to be a desire to start looking outside the current institutional schooling box. The strength of polytechnic education lies in its practical nature. It is a curriculum of applied theory. Responsibility rests on all educational stakeholders to emphasize that course content is not the sole focus. They must accentuate the learning outcomes, the real-world applicable skills in which students demonstrate competency, and the “work that engages the human capacities as fully as possible” (Crawford, 2009, p. 52). It is imperative students should be just as capable in showing how they worked through a problem over just the final solution. The exact opposite of gestalt because the parts are greater than the sum.      A CASE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION  38  REFERENCES André, I., Carmo, A., Abreu, A., Estevens, A., & Malheiros, J. (2012). Learning for and from the  city: the role of education in urban social cohesion. Belgeo,(4), 1-19. doi: 10.4000/belgeo.8587 Aoki, T. T. (1993). Legitimating Lived Curriculum: Towards a Curricular Landscape of   Multiplicity. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 8(3), 255-269. Appiah, K.A. (2008). Education for Global Citizenship. In Why do we Educate?    Renewing the Conversation (Vol. 1, pp. 83-99). National Society for the Study of   Education. BCIT Institutional Planning and Analysis Office. (2013, March). BCIT Experience: Full Time  Students. Retrieved March 27, 2019, from https://www.bcit.ca/files/ir/pdf/bcit_ experience_ft_students.pdf British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2018a, August 28). BC's New Curriculum: Applied Design,  Skills, and Technology K to 12. 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The world beyond your head: On becoming an individual in an age  of distraction. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Crawford, M. B., & Rose, M. (2012). Work and Dignity: A Conversation between Mike Rose  and Matthew Crawford. The Hedgehog Review,4(3). Retrieved October 15, 2018,  from https://iasc-culture.org/THR/THR_article_2012_Fall_RoseCrawford.php. Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from https://archive.org/ stream/ExperienceAndEducation/dewey2#page/n0/mode/2up Goldrick-Rab, S. (2012). Comments on mike rose's essay “Rethinking remedial education and the  academic-vocational divide”. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 19(1), 26-28. doi:10.1080/10749039.2011.632054 Greene, M. (1978). Landscapes of learning. New York: Teachers College Press.  Hatch, M. (2014). The maker movement manifesto: Rules for innovation in the new world of  crafters, hackers, and tinkerers. New York: McGraw-Hill Education. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. 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