Friday, February 10, 2017

It's a Beautiful Thing

Troy Custom Roadster 12

Saw this at Silodrome - custom built in '59, recently restored, going on the auction block in April. Lots of pictures at the link. Beautiful one-off machine. Only two things keeping me from building something very similar - talent and money. I could probably scrape together the money, might have to peddle a few things off, but the talent? Just takes a long time to learn all the necessary skills.

If you wanted to go old school hot rod underpinnings, you can get everything for the frame and components from any number of sources. Actually, building the frame would be a piece of cake for me, it's the rest of it that would be tough. Making the sheet metal and getting that hung on would be the real ball buster. Farm out the paint and upholstery and there you go - one bitchin' roadster.

I sure do admire the skills of the builders of these sorts of projects. I know there are quite a few young guys getting involved in auto and bike custom projects, so there's talent out there. I wonder what would happen if schools started incorporating more of this type of work into the curriculum?

I just gave a mid-term test at the college and, again, I'm amazed at how poorly educated some of these people are. Not stupid, mind you, but ignorant. I think with many of them it's a reading issue. Some it's a focus issue - they just tune you out as soon as you start talking while in the classroom, however, if you tell them the same thing while in the welding booth, it sinks in. Some haven't a clue on how to study or take tests. While ultimately the students are responsible for their performance at the college level, the public schools and the parents are also to blame for not properly preparing them earlier.

It will be interesting to see what happens with education now that Ms. DeVos will be seated in the big chair. Since she's a huge proponent of charter schools and school choice, maybe it's time to look at vocational charter schools. Indiana currently has vocational offerings but if we turn back the clock and look at some of the things offered way back when, maybe that should be the blueprint for the future. Instead of taking a class such as welding at a career center or in one of the few comprehensive high schools still offering such classes, go back to the concept of a true vocational high school. Math, science, English, everything taught in house to prepare students with job skills and life skills. The trades are all using digital technology of some sort, so it's not like you're going to condemn the students to low paying jobs. Rather, if done properly, you would have them mastering arithmetic and geometry, rather than having them graduating without being able to multiply common fractions.

One of the biggest complaints against Ms. DeVos is that she isn't an educator. Having been involved in education for forty years, I'm thinking that's not really a liability. You need people looking at the outcome of the system and determining if what you're getting is the product you want. And it's not now for a large percentage of the students in public education. While the large teacher's unions are doing a lot of squawking, if I was them I'd be starting a few charter schools of my own and then tell the politicians: See what can be done if you leave us alone and get rid of all the dumb-ass rules!

I hope there will be some noticeable improvement in education in the next few years. Even if there is, it will take a long time to see the true results. More probably, there will a lot of time wasted and hand wringing over the charter school vs traditional school roles and nothing much will change. However, if we go back to the vocational school concept, every kid will at least know something about the 3,4,5 rule, the value of knowing the number 1.414 in right triangle geometry, how to scale up the recipe for a cake and convert cups to fluid ounces. Depending on their specialization, they'll also know that low hydrogen electrodes are designed to weld high carbon and high sulfur steels, figure out board feet calculations or the cutting speed for a high speed tool bit.

I might have to get busy on that manifesto when I retire.

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