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The coming age of teh st00pid

Why your teenager can’t use a hammer.

When Junior was just shy of four, she watched intently as I used a cordless drill to tighten some screws. She asked about it. I sat her down in the work area of my basement and gave her a couple of old boards, a handful of screws, and the drill. I showed her how the drill worked, how to hold it, and how to change it from tighten to loosen. She sat there for about 45 minutes putting screws in the boards, taking them out, and bolting them together. After, she tried the hammer too. At three years old.

22 Responses to “The coming age of teh st00pid”

  1. Bubblehead Les Says:

    Hated it at the time, of course, but I’m so glad I grew up poor and my Dad and I had to repair and build most of the stuff we owned. Now when I look at 16 year old kid and ask him what “Rightie Tightie, Leftie Loossie” means, I get tired of the saying “let me Wiki it”.

    Just hit me. Think of the Drill Sergeants teaching this Generation on how to Strip and Clean their Weapon. God help us.

  2. A Critic Says:

    Half of our farmers are going to retire in the next few years. A good chunk of the doctors too. The same for every skilled job/profession.

    And what will be replacing them? Zombies of course.

  3. Rivrdog Says:

    When I was a kid, 60 years ago, one of the most-bought toys was a little wooden bench with holes in it, and pegs to fit the holes, and a little mallet to drive the pegs. There were round pegs and round holes they fit, and square pegs which only fit in the square holes. Some of the toys even had a threaded peg which fit into a threaded hole (and had right-hand threads, to teach “righty-tighty”).

    I haven’t seen one of those little bench sets for years, and THAT explains why BH Les can’t find a kid who knows the old thread-maxim.

    Good for you, Uncle, teaching Junior the ways of hand tools. Next stop for her, a good hand-drill to learn the art of boring a straight hole with the right drill.

  4. Weer'd Beard Says:

    We used to spend time as kids using bench tools to build forts and crude toys and to destroy various junk, so you get that stuff pretty quick.

    Still even if you never touch a tool, isn’t that like 80% of Basic Physics courses? I mean we all learned about the leverage and torque of hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches in High School.

    had a shop class too, but didn’t do much in that that I remember.

  5. DirtCrashr Says:

    Dad was a shop-teacher. I made a lot of my own toys or enhancements to toys; elaborations on tissue and balsa wood flying model airplanes, a trip-wire grenade-launcher for my Gi-Joe out of a clothes’ pin… and I learned to draw in order to express more complicated ideas in a visual form.
    I don’t see my nephews even knowing how to fix their bicycle – and the dudes are 25 years old. Often as not if it/anything breaks in any fashion, they just get a NEW one…

  6. aeronathan Says:

    Oh I hated it when my dad would drag me around on the weekends making me help him do stuff around the house. From changing the oil in the car, to putting up shelves to repairing whatever was broken.

    Now I’m grateful because every time my wife says “We need to hire someone to do X” I say “No problem, I’ve got it covered.”

  7. Lyle Says:

    I remember, as a small kid, asking my mother, “Can I pound nails in the dog house?” She never said “no”. There must have been a thousand extra nails in the top of that dog house after a summer or two of that.

  8. comatus Says:

    I can’t say why (other than that I built my house), but this line of thought always reminds me of Alan Dugan’s “Love Song: I and Thou.” You’re gonna love this:

  9. Veeshir Says:

    Parents are doing that stuff with kids anymore.
    My brother in law is a perfect example. He’s always talking about how his son doesn’t know crap.
    “When I was 16 my father and I rebuilt a Charger!!”

    I’ve never said it, but I’m dying to say, “Yeah, and I’m sure your 16 year old self was the driver in that, right?”

    Another thing that gets me, I know a whole bunch of 30+ year old guys who can’t drive a stick-shift.

  10. Sebastian Says:

    Recently had an ex girlfriend ask on FB about how to light a pilot in a hot water heater. My first thought was “Don’t you have a boyfriend? And why does he not know how to do this?”

    So I’m glad you’re raising the girl right. Apparently depending on young men to know these kinds of things is asking a lot.

  11. treefroggy Says:

    Teach ’em while you can, but don’t hold your breath. I’ve raised 2 into adulthood, and when puberty hits, they’ll be using the hammer to put in the screws. It seems to be a core-dump thing, but you never know.

  12. JKB Says:

    Well, someone brilliant with an education degree got rid of all those nasty old manual arts classes. I think every kid at 12-14 should have a class in tool skills. Not necessarily a shop class but one that familiarized them with tools if there are any around who really understand tools still.

    I found this in book from 1886 promoting a school that taught manual arts as a expansion of book learning. MIT was started on such a model.


    n the light of this analysis Carlyle’s rhapsody on tools becomes a prosaic fact, and his conclusion—that man without tools is nothing, with tools all—points the way to the discovery of the philosopher’s stone in education. For if man without tools is nothing, to be unable to use tools is to be destitute of power; and if with tools he is all, to be able to use tools is to be all-powerful. And this power in the concrete, the power to do some useful thing for man—this is the last analysis of educational truth. Charles H. Ham, Mind and Hand: manual training, the chief factor in education (1900)

  13. Jusuchin (Military Otaku) Says:

    As part of this generation, I too am glad I grew up slightly below the ‘discard if it breaks’ line. Learned to hammer a nail and saw a board, mix concrete and arrange cinderblocks .

    When I got my car I learned how to do basic maintenance on em and such other small things.

    And yes, I feel sorry for my peers. ._.

  14. Jon B Goode Says:

    Guess where most kids learn skills from, (their parents!) so if these kids don’t have skills, blame the parents.

    My family is dirt cheap, so we Diy’ed or died and now I have skills! and leadership abilities! and competency! and life is good.


    One word.


  16. HL Says:

    Wussification in general. Boys are more interested in getting the tilt of their wool hat, or the “swoosh” of their cowlick (or whatever you call that dumbass swirlie haircut they wear) correct than growing into men.

    The girls are at fault too. They pick the least masculine to date.

    And yes, Divorce is a big part of it. Mothers no longer have to rely on men to be good fathers, hence, too many momma’s boys are raised. We all know the story.

    To borrow from Ron Swanson, “I am surrounded by a lot of women in this world…and that includes the men.”

  17. Ellen Says:

    The first time it really hit home for me was about thirty years ago, when I was teaching (not professionally) a class on making jewelry. And when it came time to use a file, one college lad wanted to know what a file was. After I’d demonstrated its use.

  18. Justthisguy Says:

    If you have to use a verbal-think mnemonic like righty-tighty, you are no good at it, to start with. Just visualize it; no words necessary. Of course you’ll prolly pass the credit check and Uncle will hire you, even if you can’t use a screwdriver without cutting yourself, in the words of Jubal Harshaw.

  19. Justthisguy Says:

    Jon, any manual skills I learned I taught myself, from books, or from observing my Mom. My Dad was a goddamned salesman, and manager. Jr. High Shop class didn’t help, as it was mostly just trying to avoid the bullies and other socially cool kids.

  20. Bryan S. Says:

    Me thinks the coming age came a while ago…. been to a hardware store recently? The probability of geting a blank stare is rapidly increasing.

  21. Will Says:


    In the early 80’s, CA bought a lot of Hi-Po Mustangs for the CHP. (No smog equipment, so they couldn’t be re-sold to the public.) They only came with a 4-speed trans. Turned out the vast majority of officers did not know how to drive a stick!

    They also had no clue how to drive something with some HP. With a light back end. HIGH crash rate. They got pulled from normal use. Cops had to be certified in some sort of roadrace training before they were allowed to drive them, and only used for locations that required that sort of performance. They were driving a Dodge Diplomat(?) that took about 6 miles to get up to their top end of 96mph.

  22. Says:

    Well I have a two year old and I can’t wait to build r/c toys, robots and go carts.