I never took an industrial arts class. I stayed in the fine arts side of the building. I was drawing, painting, making sculpture and slab pottery with raku glaze. I never learned to use a band saw. I saw my friend's finger after he nearly had it cut clean off by a band saw. There wasn't nearly as much potential danger swirling around the fine arts. Oh sure, every so often there was some wild talk about an explosion in the kiln, but it was nothing compared to the daily dance with death that was Shop Class.
Maybe it started when I was listening to Bill Cosby records at an impressionable age and started forming my perceptions of what Shop Class would be like. Tough guys took Shop Class. Guys who could spit with accuracy took Shop Class. Guys who had painted their own lunch box did not take Shop Class. I secretly harbored resentment for guys (and even some girls) who were taking Industrial Arts class and were walking out with these nifty lanyards, then polished plastic rings with three different colors, and eventually even a real working lamp. I was bringing home monstrosities made of yarn and chicken wire and several reams of drawing paper demonstrating my ability to shade effectively. I knew that drill all too well. The first week of any studio art class is all about becoming familiar with the media. I learned a lot about perspective, and how it can be used to create the illusion of depth, but it always stopped just short of real drafting. Drafting was a class you took on the other side.
When it came time to pick a major as a freshman in college, I checked the box for "Studio Art." For the first time, when I went to drawing class I didn't have to walk past the open bay doors where other guys were working with tools and getting their hands dirty just standing around. I attended a liberal arts school, up the road from the "vocational schools." I painted and drew and designed, and I took some literature classes. And I took a writing workshop.
As a sophomore, I transferred to the University of Colorado where there may have been industrial arts taking place on campus, but I never ran across them. I took one more "Basic Drawing" course, and after the first three meetings, I stopped going. I discovered some weeks later that there is a deadline for dropping classes to avoid being given a failing grade. I got my first and only "F" in Basic Drawing at the University of Colorado. Subsequently I was put on academic probation for two semesters. My learning curve for the fine arts had bottomed out. I started hanging out with guys who knew about tools - and could spit with accuracy.