‘Cheers’ Actor John Ratzenberger Speaks Out On Why Shop Classes Must Be Brought Back to Schools

by Clayton Edwards

Yesterday, John Ratzenberger, former star of Cheers and most recently the voice of Ham in Toy Story, talked to Foz Business. He was there to talk about skilled trade and the importance of shop class.

Shop class is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Back in the good old days, shop classes offered students a chance to learn how to work with their hands. In some classes, a student could learn their way around a carpenter’s workshop. On the other hand, some classes allowed high schoolers to learn the ins and outs of welding. There was no limit to what you could learn in the school’s workshop.

Many readers of a certain age may have things that they built in one of those vocational classes to this day. For instance, in many schools, students constructed sturdy boxes or birdhouses that stood the test of time. At the same time, many of those who are out there building the world in which we live picked up their basic skills in high school. The disappearance of these classes upsets John Ratzenberger in a big way.

John Ratzenberger is one of those who learned the trade of carpentry in high school. Before he played Cliff in the classic show Cheers and decades before he was the voice of Ham in Toy Story Ratzenberger was a carpenter. In fact, he told Fox Business he earned a living as a carpenter before acting. He also took carpentry jobs between acting gigs.

John Ratzenberger talks about importance of shop classes.

John Ratzenberger Shared His Thoughts On Shop Class

John Ratzenberger really highlighted the importance of shop classes in the United States. Their purpose, he said, was to let students see what it’s like to work with their hands. Some kids don’t have any other chance to see what that’s like. So, shop classes are incredibly important for that reason.

Furthermore, John Ratzenberger said that shop classes are the first step many take in entering a skilled trade. He noted that there is a lack of workers in the skilled trades. To him, the reason for this is clear. When shop classes started going away, so too did the interest in being a tradesman. Ratzenberger pointed out that no matter how much money we put into infrastructure if there are no tradesmen no one is going to be there to do the work. So, the lack of shop classes and, more broadly, an introduction to skilled trades actually puts us all at a disadvantage.