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Notre Dame Prof Argues Universities Need to Teach Trade Skills

Notre Dame Prof Argues Universities Need to Teach Trade Skills

Mike Rowe has been pushing trade skills for a long time.

Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen makes a compelling argument to get America back on track. It’s something Mike Rowe talks about all the time. From The College Fix:

Deenen said in his presentation that in the “modern world” there are two political parties – the “party of order” and the “party of progress.”

The “party of progress” has created an American society of “rapid change” that not only fostered “disorder [and] instability” but also caused a “decline of norms and customs,” Deneen said.

To remedy the situation, Deenen said the “party of order” needs to replace the “party of progress.”

Being a professor, Deenen gave suggestions on how to implement this “party of order” at the university level.

Deenen said colleges and universities need to increase their opportunities for students to study and develop “urban trades” and suggested they could require students to learn a trade in order to graduate.

This was generally greeted with approval from the crowd — one individual even reacted and said it was a “good idea.”


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John M | May 25, 2023 at 10:22 am

I remember learning “industrial arts” in middle school, including drafting, woodshop, metal shop, offset printing, and basic electric work. By the time my kids were that age, shop had been replaced with more college prep academic classes – to ready kids for the likes of Notre Dame.
The wheel keeps turning, if slowly.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to John M. | May 25, 2023 at 11:10 am

    I enjoyed industrial arts except drafting. The teacher was BADLY in need of having the daylights thrashed out of him.

    That happened two semesters later and me at a different Jr Hi. The man somehow went down a flight of stairs. No one saw a thing.

      John M in reply to The Gentle Grizzly. | May 25, 2023 at 12:50 pm

      Heh – I was good at drafting and when I entered an engineering program in college I was totally fine in mechanical drawing. But because of programs like ProEngineer, those skills are out the window.
      Brave, new world.

    Dimsdale in reply to John M. | May 26, 2023 at 7:01 am

    And those college prep courses have been replaced with “diversity” and “gender affirming” classes.

    How about giving these children some “how to survive life” courses so they can function in society instead of having tantrums and living in their parent’s basement.

OldProf2 | May 25, 2023 at 11:36 am

In my middle school, boys were required to take metal shop, wood shop, and drafting. I don’t remember much of drafting, but I’ve used the skills from metal shop and wood shop all my life. At the University I took an elective called “Industrial Processes.” We learned to operate metal lathes, milling machines, and gas and arc welding. In the summer I was a yard mechanic for a John Deere dealership. Once again, I picked up skills that I’ve used my entire life.

By now, all those practical skills courses have probably been replaced with mandatory courses on Critical Race Theory indoctrination, both in the middle school and at the University. Students won’t learn how to do anything useful, but they’ll certainly know how to complain and raise hell.

I took wood shop and learned the rudiments of drafting in Junior High back eons ago. My local middle school had a wood shop. The local moms successfully got it removed because they thought having their kids work with and around tools were dangerous. I have news for these people. I have been a Scout leader in this area for 30 years. Their kids are not all going to become doctors, lawyers and engineers. Some of them need to learn how to use tools or else they’re going to end up on welfare.

    John M in reply to RonF. | May 25, 2023 at 12:51 pm

    Yeah, I was a scout leader too, and it was pretty cool to teach the scouts how to repair a bicycle tire and all that. I’m afraid that’s going away, too.

The “college should be free” crowd points to Germany a lot. “College is free in Germany, why not here?” they say. What they don’t take into consideration is that in their equivalent of High School the kids take a series of qualifying exams. Sure, college is free – for the 30% that qualify for university. The rest end up in professional or trade schools. Now go tell the “College should be free” crowd that you’ll have to take a test to go to college and that if you don’t do well enough you won’t get in and you’ll be going to trade school.

    John M in reply to RonF. | May 25, 2023 at 1:10 pm

    I remember meeting a chap in a train car in England who told me, “when we graduate from what you call high school, we’re expected to know something.” As a long-time college instructor, I can say the same is not required here.
    I actually think there is merit and good sense to the German system here, although I think their qualifying exam is a bit overmuch. When I lived there, I remember a 14-year-old lad getting physically ill over the one-shot-to-determine-your-life exam. He did fine, it turns out,
    The U.S. system of higher ed is so different from the German system, though, that it wouldn’t work here. All of our community colleges are trying to be miniature state colleges, and all of our state colleges are trying to be state universities, and all of our state universities are trying to be private R1 unis.
    In the German system, if we were to parallel it, R1 Unis would be producing scholars, state unis would be producing lawyers and doctors and businessmen, state colleges would be producing teachers and accountants, and community colleges would be producing auto technicians, graphic designers, welders, and CNC operators.
    But because of so-called “Carnegie Creep” and other strange aspects of American higher education, each level of our system aspires to be whatever the next level is, so we overproduce communication majors who end up as administrative assistants, and sociology majors who work the desk a rental agencies. Oh I’ve seen a lot of that.
    And when I’m president … well I won’t fix it because it can’t be fixed until it collapses. And that’s coming.

    Dimsdale in reply to RonF. | May 26, 2023 at 7:06 am

    “Free” equates (equities) to “for everyone” for leftists. They think there is unlimited space in colleges and they will just be able to walk in and learn about gender mutilation with no responsibilities.

    Of course, they think socialism is a viable form of government, so they are coming in dumbed down.

So I’m going to go to college for four years and incur anywhere from $80k to $300k of debt to learn to be a plumber?

The most difficult thing about most of the trades is not actually learning to do the work; while often physically demanding, the jobs generally aren’t too complex. The most difficult thing is defeating the scheme used to undermine and discourage competition: the required professional licensure.

This just sounds more like a revenue generating scheme for universities than a necessary and useful educational proposal.

There are still plenty of community colleges and trade schools around that provide this type of training at a much more reasonable cost.

paracelsus | May 25, 2023 at 1:26 pm

In the US the basic trades are (used to be) taught in high school,before a child went off to an apprenceship (under a master or in the Armed Services). Children (their parents?) made up their minds based upon their interests: a child interested in become a research chemist went off to college; a child interested in repairing cars found a master(?) at an automotive shop (and earned an income at the same time). sitting at a desk to memorize the knowledge of the elements used in making piston steel, as well as the structural strength is unnecessary in the real world of automotive repair, you purchase the recommended piston from your supplier.
The universities are beginning to see their enrollment falling precipitiously and are worried: they’re matriculating students (born in the US) who can barely speak English.
Let’s add more alternatives to attract more students: let’s teach classes in “The Proper Cleansing of your Bum” and charge $1000 per semester extra.
And if we can bribe the politicians to pass Free University (taken out of your ever increasing taxes, the University will no longer have to worry about falling enrollment and it’ll just (has already) become an extention of grade school.

henrybowman | May 25, 2023 at 4:31 pm

This is stupid. It’s like Ruth’s Chris arguing that they need to offer cheesesteaks and pizza on their menus.

I can already get great cheesesteaks and pizza at a tenth of that price, from people who have been serving my cheesesteak and pizza joneses for decades. The $100 steakhouse is there to give me something much better than that, should I decide that is what I want tonight.

This is just Notre Dame admitting they can no longer equip their students with a first-class elite education, and wanting to be held to a trade-school standard at a premium price.

paracelsus | May 26, 2023 at 10:11 am

@ Sailorcurt
and the Armed Services, particularly the Navy, will provide a full education in the trade of your choice (or for which your’e best suited), while giving you a reasonable pay check as well

    Yup. I was actually a decent student and got good grades, but after the 12th grade, I was pretty much “over” school. The thought of spending another four years cooped up in classrooms and spending my spare time studying for tests made me cringe.

    I wanted to be in electronics so I joined the Navy to learn the trade. I fully intended to learn my trade, do my time and get out, but I actually found that I enjoyed it and was thriving there, so I did 21 years before “retiring”. I don’t regret a minute of it even though “electronics” isn’t really even much of a thing any more. When’s the last time you saw a TV repair shop? People just throw electronics away when they break these days.

    But even with that said, I’ve still been able to rely on my military experience and training to keep me gainfully employed (and currently making 6 figures) for the 22 years since I got out. All without a single student loan or Pell grant.

    And if I’d decided to be a welder, engine mechanic or HVAC tech, I probably could have done even better after “retiring” from the military.

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