Why some educators are putting a new emphasis on woodworking class.

Teachers like Ben Kellman were always in the school basement. Kellman is still down there.

He’s the woodshop instructor at Marshall Middle School in Billerica. At 63, he’s a relic from the days when most junior high schools had woodshops, those cavernous subterranean classrooms filled with table saws and lathes and sawdust where kids learned how to make birdhouses, napkin holders, and end tables. Most of these classrooms were dismantled by the 1990s as schools prepared students for a technology-based age.

But a few of those teachers refused to go away, and now there is a renewed call from a variety of corners for students to learn woodworking in the classroom. Some are becoming increasingly vocal about the need to reintroduce this kind of training. One Boston public school principal this year even made woodworking mandatory for middle schoolers, convinced it’s the key to improving grades...

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