A long time ago, I started making a list of things I wanted to do when I retired.
Didn’t expect to retire as early as I did. But then again, that gives me just that much more time to catch up on my list.
I wanted to grow my hair long again, since I think older women with long hair look good. And I’m no longer taking the medications that made my hair fall out, so that was two good reasons to quit going to the haircut place. It’s long enough to tie up with a scrunchie now, and while I haven’t come to a decision about whether it’s going to be OK long or not, I’m amused to think that the last time it was this long, scrunchies hadn’t been invented yet.
Another item on my list was “Take the shop classes they wouldn’t let you take because you’re a girl.” In those bad old pre-Title IX days, it was not only permitted but common to have classes that were strictly segregated by gender. While it made sense for what passed for “sex ed” in those days (tell the girls about menstruation and tell the boys about sperm) it most assuredly did NOT make sense when it came to assigning girls to home-ec classes only and boys to shop classes only. (Don’t get me started on sports; we’ll be here all day.)
I really wanted to take shop. My dad was not the kind of dad who Fixed Things. He didn’t have tools and he didn’t have a workshop and he didn’t putter around in the garage. He had a study, and he sat and read books in it. And when something went flooie around the house, he had to call someone else to come fix it. I liked fixing things. I liked building kits and reading about science and technology. And I would have been in heaven in shop class. But I was a girl.
So, now that nobody can tell me what I can’t do (other than perhaps invade the men’s room, and who would want to do that in the first place) I have started taking “shop” classes, starting with welding. I’ve now completed classes in oxy/acetylene and arc welding, neither of which is going to be particularly practical in my non-school hours, and I learned a little about MIG welding but there wasn’t time to finish that unit. So, this semester, I’m taking an “independent study” class to learn MIG.
Which, should I choose to do so, can be done at home with rented equipment. Once I learn how. I’m determined to learn how.
On my way home from class today, I got to musing about other things that have changed radically in schools since I went there. (Besides the business of the teacher leading us in the Lord’s Prayer every morning first thing.) When I was in school everyone had to by golly sit still and pay attention in class, all day long. (I was a bad kid. I had opinions and I was smarter than the teacher and I knew a lot of stuff and I talked. I’m the only person I know of who had to stay after school on the last day of school.) Nowadays, when kids are expected to sit still in class and behave, oh dearie me, it’s unfair to the boys, who don’t learn well when they have to sit still. (There goes how many hundreds of years of “sit still or I’ll smack you a good one” out the window?)
Truth to tell, I think that’s just backlash against the people who have insisted, for the last 40 years or so, that by golly girls ought to get an equal shake in school. Now, even being expected to sit still and pay attention is “girl oriented teaching” and therefore unfair.
You know what? Boo freakin’ hoo. It’s no longer legal to tell girls they can’t do things because they’re girls. Girls can’t be relegated to mediocre intramural sports or told they can’t take gymnastics (as happened in the second high school I went to) or kept out of shop classes and forced to take home-ec. (Equally, boys can’t be told they aren’t allowed in the home-ec classes nor discouraged from taking typing–keyboarding–or forced to take shop classes if they are not so inclined.)
My daughter took metal shop in junior high and my son took cooking. I cheered them both on with enthusiasm. They were doing the things their dad and I weren’t allowed to do when we were their age. That’s progress, no matter how many “conservatives” try to shout back the tide.
Once I’m done with the welding classes, I think I’ll take machine shop.