Writer compares WU and KAW classes

Brian Allen

Any trainer will tell you to do the same number of repetitions with your right arm as your left or you will look a little silly flexing on Muscle Beach. Washburn University and Kaw Area Technical School might be the answer for pumping up your right and left brain. They have recently partnered and I’m lucky enough to be taking a class at each, fantasy world meets real world.

At Washburn I’m enrolled in a creative writing class. A great place to exercise the right brain known for creative, subjective and imaginative thinking. When I finish a story I end up with some words on paper that hopefully convey an image, idea, or a concept that might entertain or make you think. My classmates are traditional colligates, young men and women, computers at the ready. I find it challenging and mentally invigorating; I enjoy weaving stories out of thin air.

At the Kaw Area Technical School I am in a Machine Tool Technology class. There the left brain known for logical, objective and critical thinking gets a work out. I have to follow the blue print to within one thousandth of an inch if I want to end up with something useful. We are carving cold rolled steel and our errors last forever, there is no delete and no spell check. It is an evening class, all men twenty to sixty. It requires skill, practice and concentration to use the metal lathes and milling machines. I find the work grounds me and I enjoy producing something useful that can felt and touched.

I have heard members of each discipline, academic and skilled trade, denigrate the other. I don’t get tweed jacket vs. blue collar xenophobia. Like all prejudices I think it is based on ignorance and misunderstanding. Metal-smithing takes a lot more thought than you might imagine and word-smithing requires a lot more labor than you might think. Flexing both sides of the brain, firing lots of neurons across the connecting corpus callosum seems a healthy and balanced way to live.

Some may think the marriage of University and Technical School a mismatch but after experiencing both I believe the differences complement each other. Steel and paper, skill and creativity, all necessary for living and dreaming.