When someone mentions general education classes you probably think of four subjects: math, science, English and history.
The idea is that these four subjects will give you a base knowledge to survive in the world.
This doesn’t seem adequate to me though.
How are you going to learn about taxes and money — having a bank account or writing checks?
Holding down a job?
But most importantly, what if your car breaks down?
For many students a personal vehicle is their only mode of transportation to work and school.
Without it they lose their ability to learn or make money.
With one car for every three people in the Bay Area, it honestly surprises me that hardly anyone knows how to fix them.
Many of the problems we encounter with our cars are quite simple to fix by yourself.
Requiring students to take a basic automotive class would help them fix these simple problems without having to pay hundreds of dollars for a mechanic to fix them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of issues beyond the scope of the average student’s intelligence that requires special training, however, things such as worn belts, bad brakes, batteries and plenty of other issues, can be fixed by almost anyone with very little training.
The most valuable skills to be learned here are critical thinking and problem solving.
Before you can fix a problem, you have to figure out what is actually wrong.
Beyond that, you then have to decide whether you can fix it yourself or if a mechanic is needed.
Should you decide to try and fix it on your own, you then have to work through how to fix it.
Physical problem solving is one of the best ways to learn because if you make a mistake you have to undo and fix the problem again.
An automotive class provides the perfect platform to teach these sort of problem solving skills.
By holding this knowledge, students can also help others who are having car troubles.
I would take personal pride in using skills learned at Contra Costa College to help someone else in need.
The community of cars and car people is like no other and having a class like this would introduce students to others who have an undying passion for what they do.
Students are also always looking for solutions. I think this would be a great way to save money, time and frustration.
The class wouldn’t be for everyone, but it would certainly be helpful for daily life. And you would have students who walk away with some extra knowledge that will help them at some point or maybe help someone find their dream career.
Automotive major Craig Yannow is a perfect example of this.
Growing up, he never thought he would be into cars. But now he owns his own car and works in the industry. If it weren’t for the skills he learned through cars, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
You could try to make this argument for other classes, but I don’t believe any class would be as useful in a real world application. I have always believed that people learn better with hands on instruction and an automotive class provides a perfect medium.