Marihelen Wheeler: The need for vocational training


Published: Monday, October 28, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 at 11:20 p.m.

As an art teacher, I believe in the use of pencil and paper and the need to teach the hands to do more than push buttons. I am an advocate for vocational training for all students.

Indeed, we have vocational options at Santa Fe College and Job Corps. However, our young students in middle and high school do not even know that there are career options closer to their interests and ability levels as we push them ever harder toward the goal of a college career.

Recently, it was suggested that the abandoned Walmart on 13th be used for a homeless shelter. I would like to suggest that in such a topsy-turvy world, it would not be unreasonable to ask Walmart to donate that building for a vo-tech center, easily accessed by bus and bike. The building could be divided into sections allowing students to learn trades from business folks, working and retired alike, preparing our students for careers that are actually useful to the community and available.

Many of our students will not get to the point of their education to realize that there are alternatives. Students could learn auto mechanics, domestic skills, beauty careers, welding, carpentry, plumbing, sewing — yes, like “back in the day” as our kids would say. The building is large enough to provide a storefront where students could practice their hands at repairs, auto work, hair cuts, sewing/clothing design, welding, coffee and food shops, etc.

Electricity does go out. Computers do freeze up and Kindles get lost or broken. The world is changing, yes, but is also very vulnerable. We need to know how to problem solve, not only with our minds, but our hands as well.

If we want to make the world more manageable for our children, then we need to make sure our children know how to manage it even when the computers freeze up or the power goes out!

Marihelen Wheeler lives in Gainesville

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