Woodworking Teaching Methods

By Bernie Bottens | Posted: 11/06/2013 12:18PM


Dean Mattson Bernie Bottens I am sure that more than one job seeker has come to your door who has been able to sell themselves to you and get hired based upon what later turned out to be brag backed up by a lack of fact. When it came time to hit the shop floor, not all of what they told you was really accurate.

Here’s where the Dean Mattsons of the world as well as Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) come into your picture. Dean is not just teaching how to make pretty dovetails in his class. Indeed, he is training his students to exhibit specific woodworking and job skills upon graduation. Students with those skills are then transitioned into shops that have, in turn, told Dean what they want new workers to know coming in the door. Dean teaches to those specific skills. Those shops get Dean’s students equipped with that knowledge when they walk in the door. Industry helps the students. The students gain careers as a result. How cool is that???

Now let’s talk a moment about what WCA can do for both the student and you as shop owner. WCA trains teachers to be evaluators in their system of skill evaluation/validation. They, in turn, become qualified to sign off on specific skills tested and demonstrated. As a student gains skills and is tested, a stamped entry is made in that student’s passport sized log book of achieved skills. That passport becomes part of who that young person is in shop class. Can he or she use a table saw safely? Well, it says right here that on such and such a date that they demonstrated that they can. Can they set up and operate a planer? Yes that’s here as well. Can they run a shaper or CNC? Look in the passport. What does it say?

No passport? Hmmm. Looks like we are back to finding out the difference between brag and fact. But if they come from a program with which you work closely and know what is going on, then those students should have an advantage at interview time over someone with unknown history.

Again, I go back to the same drum I have been beating for the past two years. Do you know the shop teacher in your local high school? Do you know what they are producing there? Are you tapping into that potential pool of students for your work force? Where do you find skilled workers? How can you tailor those skilled workers so that they are fit to walk out into your shop and be productive for you?

I think the answer could be as easy as getting to know your area shop teacher and taking a look at the WCA website.

Until next time...spray on!



About the Author

Bernie Bottens

Bernie Bottens (WoodworkingNetwork.com/blogs)writes and teaches on the subject of wood and wood finishing in industrial woodworking. He and his wife, Carol, live in Vancouver, WA. Bernie has been teaching wood finishing to shop owners, shop foremen, spray technicians and finishers all over Oregon, southwest Washington, and northern California for the past 9 years. Prior to that, he owned his own cabinet shop. His shop credentials include apprenticing and becoming a journeyman exhibit builder. Before that he taught in the public schools for 20 years. Bernie is the owner of Kapellmeister Enterprises, Inc. and Kap Coatings Consulting. Reach him at kapenterprises@msn.com.

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