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Practical Electives

The+original+wing+for+practical+electives+such+as+woodworking+or+auto+shop
Dante Solorio
The original wing for practical electives such as woodworking or auto shop

Do you have an interest in hands-on activities? Any future plans of pursuing the trade school path? From woodshop to home economics, and from sewing to auto shop classes, Willow Glen High School had a deep history of offering very interesting and attractive courses as elective options. As sad as it may be, the majority of such intriguing elective course options find themselves discontinued. However, until the early 1990s, there were a variety of available electives that Willow Glen’s student body absolutely loved! But why? Why did such beloved courses make their way out of the course options at Willow Glen?

To begin, the reason behind the disappearance of these electives is surprisingly much simpler than you may think! Before we get into the details of the disappearance though, let me remind you of which fun classes were available. Here at Willow Glen, we offered metal shop, drafting, home economics, auto shop, driver’s education, sewing, radio, and electric shop and a woodshop. To gain a little bit better of an understanding about these electives, I asked Mr. Ostrowski a few questions in relation to specific classes. I asked a couple of questions about why they were discontinued. The main points that I received were that there was a target audience for each class and that the majority of students in each class were based on traditional gender roles. For example, a class such as auto shop, was very heavily male-dominated, as auto shop is considered a traditionally male-dominated industry. In contrast, electives such as home economics and sewing were primarily female-dominated. While this may not be seen as a serious issue, gender equality and integration held immense priority and value. To ensure the highest level of diversity, eliminating these heavily male or female-dominated courses would lower separation and promote integration. 

Similarly, Mr. Ostrowski mentioned that as priority shifted and more focus was placed on specific aspects of social and academic productivity, the availability of such different electives caused schools to see them in a negative sense. Many of these electives were considered non -academic and instead, extracurricular.  Consequently, this resulted in backlash and pushback against these courses and their continuity in the near future. Willow Glen High School at the time was aiming to take a more academic approach to elective courses and looked to offer fewer classes that could be considered as “non-academic” or extracurricular. As expected, the fun and interesting electives that Willow Glen High School once offered found themselves discontinued by the late 1990s and have yet to find themselves back in the course options. As unfortunate as it is, we no longer have the option to choose from such a variety of electives. I think it can also be seen in a positive aspect though, as we can look back at our school’s history and the cool differences we now see. 

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