@David: I think my first head of department at London Underground Research Labs showed me how to do it and it mainly concerned getting the oxide coat off with fairly normal lab reagents, and then quickly soldering.
@Max; While thinking about a soldering competetion you could make life interesting by getting the contestants to measure the resistance using a slide wire potentiometer and Weston Cell. How many have used similar old kit?
I used, once, a Cambridge optical pyrometer at college, but I have never seen another one to put my hands on.
@Crusty....working on military radios I had similar problems with the "Tinsel" wires used in handset and microphone curly cords. The trick was to get a strand out of multistranded wire, and use it to bind up the tinsel cores. You could do a very neat job with practice.
Soldering with the 300 watt had soldering iron was a real pain at 10 years old the Iron was so heavy to hold.
Multi strand Litz wire tails from a tuning coil were the killer of dry joints for me, until dad showed me the trick of soldering it. Dip the cotton and shelac coated wires in alcohol, set light to the end and wait for a lovely bright glob of copper to form and then blow the flame out and then solder. Oh what lovely mini fires I had with this.
It seems to me basic soldering skills are something that needs to be taught on the bench, preferably in a flame proof room.