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Shop Class

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Shop class is shown in some High School (or even sometimes Middle School) themed works as a class where students are taught industrial arts. It is mostly called "shop" in American themed works. The purpose of the class is to teach the basics of home repairs and craftsmanship, useful skills that could potentially be parlayed into a career.

The most common form is wood shop, where students are taught how to cut wood and use power tools such as drills and saws. Occasionally, you may see other forms of shop class, such as metal shop, where students work with metal, or auto shop, where students work with cars (or sometimes bicycles). These may be shown in fiction, but in real life, metal and auto shop are more often seen in vocational schools or community colleges than in middle schools or high schools due to the bigger expenses required for supplies.


This is sometimes a compulsory course, but most of the time it's portrayed as an elective class and therefore mostly populated by males who might actually take an interest in it. Whenever female characters are shown taking shop, it's either because it's required or they're a tomboy, and this is sometimes shown as being a tomboyish trait. Sometimes, shop class is shown as a more masculine version of home economics, but there are times where both are required.

Sometimes, shop class may bring down a brainy student's ego because it requires a completely different set of skills than math, science, and English. Stereotypical nerds are not always shown at being good with their hands. Naturally, the Jerk Jock or the Dumb Muscle often excels in this subject.

Expect a couple mistakes, although mistakes in shop class tend to cross into Dude, Not Funny! territory more often than mistakes in chemistry or home economics — while the latter two usually result in comical explosions or Men Can't Keep House situations respectively, the former usually results in a lost finger.


The teacher is almost Always Male, and may even be a Sadist Teacher. Combine this with the proximity to power tools and... well, it's going to unnerve a couple characters.

This is Truth in Television, but it's not often a required course anymore. Sort of on its way to becoming a Discredited Trope.

Now stop screwing around and add some examples!

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    Fan Works 
  • Skyhold Academy Yearbook: An Alternate Universe Fic of Dragon Age: Inquisition, the titular academy's various industrial arts classes are taught by Mr. Blackwall, as a nod to the fact that he builds a rocking griffon in the source material. After the events of the first story, he opens up the old undercroft and adds a metalsmithing course to the shop class options, and his gifts to his fellow teachers on assorted holidays are usually things he has made himself while teaching the kids.
  • The Assassins' Guild School in the Discworld as written by A.A. Pessimal teaches shop classes (they were prodded into expanding these by Vetinari, who received an inspection report pointing out the AGS was deficient in hobby, handicraft and shop classes). Being Assassins, woodworking is tailored to how to make and fledge arrows and crossbow quarrels; spearshafts and hafts are also covered, as is the art of adding a hilt and handgrip to a sword; as regrettable little accidents happen, coffin-making is also covered. Meanwile the Metalwork classes cover the arrowheads and blades that go with the artefacts created in Woodwork, and those on the leatherworking module deal with belts, straps, pouches and scabbards. There is even a Stoneworking and Masonry course. Once the right way to wear the apron and the appropriate trouser leg to roll up are dealt with, those on the Masonry module learn how to carve ornamental tombstones with their own names on, date of demise left blank, for now.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: During the Equestria Girls arc, Vix-Lei gets assigned to being an assistant teacher in one of these, where the students are all working on wood-centered projects like bowls and benches.

    Film - Live Action 
  • The Breakfast Club: Brian discusses how he took Shop for the easy A it would give him, managing to insult Bender's intelligence in the process. The class was much, much harder than he anticipated, and he panicked when he realized his grades wouldn't recover.
  • A Kid in King Arthur's Court references shop class when Calvin is instructing the local blacksmith on how to make something for him.
    Blacksmith: How does a boy know so much?
    Calvin: Metal shop. Eighth grade.
  • Superbad has a brief scene showing Seth and Evan in shop class. Since they're graduating in two weeks and have already gotten their college plans all sorted out, Evan has just been drilling holes into a piece of wood instead of building something.
  • Parodied in The Muppets, where Cool Teacher Mary apparently teaches auto shop to her elementary school students.

  • The Tillerman Family Series: In Dicey's Song, title character Dicey is disappointed when she's forced to take home economics (where she and the teacher mutually dislike each other) instead of mechanical drawing, which is what she wanted to take.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: Pete is placed into Shop Class.
  • One Hundred Deeds For Eddie Mc Dowd shows this as being Eddie's only good subject after the episode revolved around the main character's dad almost becoming the new shop teacher and being extra hard on his son despite the fact that he was very competent.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: The "female takes shop because she's a tomboy" situation is used in where wood shop is Jennifer Mosely's favourite class.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: An episode has the short Why Study Industrial Arts?, which inspires Mike to set up a shop class of his own. It doesn't work out well; Tom can't use the equipment because his arms don't work, and Crow accidentally cuts himself in half.
  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: In an episode, the boys take Shop. Cody, the smart twin, assumes it will be a breeze but finds that he can barely nail two pieces of wood together. Zack, the laid-back, slacker twin creates masterpieces.
  • In Home Improvement, Tim Taylor had his former shop teacher appear as a guest on Tool Time. According to the teacher, Tim was as error prone as a kid as he is as an adult.
  • Smallville: Brainy kid Ian Randall couldn't get anything better than a C in shop class... and killed the teacher to cover it up.
  • Red Dwarf has Rimmer mention that he took woodwork. It took him five terms just to make a single tent peg.
  • Have I Got News for You makes frequent reference to Paul Merton's one academic qualification: O Level metalwork. And he didn't even do all that well at it.
  • On The Wonder Years, Kevin is unhappy to be given shop class and assumes it's a mistake. His teacher agrees to let him out of class if Kevin can beat him at arm wrestling. Kevin's shop class is shown in two later episodes.
  • One episode of Frasier had Fasier and Niles taking an auto shop evening class. Totally at sea, they became the Class Clowns, and end up getting expelled. They reflect that they now understand the frustration that caused the "back row hooligans" they hated at school to act out.

    Video Games 
  • Shop is one of the classes in Bully, although you only work on bicycles. When Jimmy enters, the teacher tells him that "Cars are for seniors".
  • The KOLHS challenge path in Kingdom of Loathing has a shop class, where you fight screw golems, out of control bandsaws, deadly vises, demonic jigsaws, and the teacher, who loses a finger every time you fight him (to the point that a trophy is available for removing all of them).

  • In Misfile, Emily takes Auto Shop in place of one of the more academic subjects she took last time around. This symbolises her closer relationship with Ash, but also causes friction with Emily's mother.

    Western Animation 
  • In Beavis And Butthead, Beavis cuts his finger off in Woodshop class. And it's Bloody Hilarious.
  • In Pepper Ann, Pepper Ann is forced to take Shop class, and fears it because she's afraid of the Sadist Teacher. She then proceeds to form a petition to get it dropped as a required course, only to realize after she succeeded that she liked it, and the teacher was just very stern and not a sadist. She persuades him to return to the school and fix it after it's replaced.
  • In King of the Hill, Hank teaches Shop for a while. He also tries to (unsuccessfully) sign Bobby up for Auto Shop.
  • In Daria, one of the legends of the mall was of a metal shop teacher with a short temper who was driven crazy by his students. After he ground his teeth down to nothing due to frustration, he made a set of steel dentures that picked up radio signals.
  • One episode of South Park focuses on boys taking Wood Shop and girls taking Home Ec (both classes are given in an elementary school rather than the usual middle or high school). Kenny breaks the mold and takes Home Ec because he fears, not unreasonably, that one of the machines will kill him. His fears become true when the Home Ec teacher, not believing Kenny could get a rich husband (which is what she teaches her students to do), sends him to shop class.
  • In Hercules: The Animated Series, Icarus's father Daedalus is the shop teacher at Prometheus Academy. In one episode he considers quitting because the school board won't let him use his own inventions because they're too "edgy," so he is stuck doing the usual mundane shop projects, like birdhouses.

     Real Life 
  • Truth in Television - many schools did/do offer this; in some schools it is or was required, but sometimes it's an alternative to Home Economics. (Some schools require both.)
    • Not to mention, Industrial arts institutes and other such vocational schools exist specifically to teach these.
    • This is becoming a bit of a Discredited Trope depending on where you go. Some schools may offer Shop Class, but it isn't required for graduation (like Home Economics), especially schools that focus more on college prep and academics. If there's any big classroom, it's likely to be devoted to Chemistry.
    • Outside the United States, where some education systems require a student to choose optional specialist subjects, woodwork and metalwork are subjects that are just as viable a choice as science subjects.
  • In US schools where it's required, "Shop" itself is probably not specifically required; the requirement is more likely a certain number of classes from the "practical arts" category such as shop, home economics, or business that can be mixed any way the student chooses to meet the required number of credits. Especially in rural areas, agriculture (which may overlap with shop; for example, students may be given the option to build a piece of farm equipment such as a lowboy trailer as a project) may be added to the mix.

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