Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (12/29)

CTE Shop Class: Now It’s High-Tech

Who makes the holidays happy?

By Mike Porcelli

Workers put up the first Rockefeller Christmas Tree in 1931. (Photo courtesy of Tishman Speyer)

As we celebrate our many year-end holiday traditions and enter a new year and a new chapter in our lives – let’s teach our children, and many adults, about the many skilled workers who make the holiday season possible.

“Tis the season to be jolly” …we greet each other with, “Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays.” But do we ever consider what it takes to make the holidays happy? Most people don’t think about all the things we take for granted, and the skilled trade workers who help us enjoy the holidays.

For example, the symbol of the season in this city – the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It is a brilliantly decorated emblem of the spirit of the holidays.

This tradition, originated by the construction workers who built Rockefeller Center during the Great Depression, continues to attract millions of admirers each year. How many skilled workers did it take to build Rockefeller Center, and how many more are needed to recreate this iconic attraction every Christmas? Starting with the farmers who grow the tree, to the many workers who cut it down, load it onto an oversize trailer, transport it over highways others build, and use huge cranes to lift it onto a stand built by others…not to mention those who use more cranes to install millions of lights and decorations that make it the national representation of the season. Don’t forget the electrical workers who power those lights, and countless other skilled tradesmen.

In addition to the millions of visitors admiring “The Tree” each year, millions more use every means of conveyance to travel home for the holidays. How happy would this season be without the cars, trains, and planes that transport us to holiday family dinners? Without the people who build those vehicles and keep them running, many of us would have a very lonely holiday.

As children, we believe the toys delivered by Santa come from the North Pole. As we grow older, we learn how goods and services are really produced. But for decades, many schools have misled students with another fiction – that the skilled trades are not valuable careers, and they must be college educated to become successful.

Unlike the myth of the North Pole – this one is harmful…depriving many students of rewarding careers.

Children know that without the skilled elves who build the toys and load them onto Santa’s sleigh, there would be nothing under their trees. In the real world, it’s time for schools everywhere to begin promoting the value of trade education and celebrating the work of the millions of skilled CTE graduates – by producing more of them. Schools MUST provide more CTE training, before those who make our holidays happy are gone.

Use this holiday season to teach young children the importance of Santa’s skilled worker elves and teach adults the value of all real-world skilled trade workers. Our New Year’s resolution should be: Create more CTE programs for all students who can benefit from them.

Enjoy the happy holidays provided by our skilled trade workers. We need: many, many more – and then some!

Teach them – now and in the future…and tools make great gifts for many of us!

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-porcelli-master-mechanic-allasecerts/ 

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