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Thread: Dissing Vocational Education

  1. #1 Dissing Vocational Education 
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    Apr 2007
    Washington State
    An article caught my eye as I work off and on teaching and getting certified for middle and high school math and science....there's almost a palpable dislike for vocational programs; it's the second track after failure to achieve high grades in college prep courses. It's somewhat understandable given the environment of Federal government's heavy handed bribery of States to meet college-based educational skill sets. WA State school are badly underfunded from overstretched budgets and local budgets depressed by the still recent cuts to property values. All that being said though it still doesn't make a lick of sense. Just about every economist predicts the US (and probably other nations) will continue to need high skilled vocational workers--in fact even formerly simple work is becoming increasingly more technical. If I take my wife's Honda to the shop...I don't want the young man who couldn't make the grade working on that car--I want the potential doctor who had an interest in getting their hands dirty and puzzling out mechanical problems instead! Furthermore, there are many students, and adults who have the talent and far more interest in vocational trade skills than in more advanced academic careers. One of my favorite books is called: "Shop class as Soulcraft," a bit about a man's personal journey through learning physics to philosophy and than finding a love in Harley motorcycle repair. I get it, as I was raised by a fisherman and working in a small engine shop and around boat building but hated the near sighted cubical work of being a research meteorologist --my own mind was eased with a life in the often hands-on and people centric US Army and when I had the time always a wood project on my drafting board or being lovingly put together in what ever I could put together as a shop. (my current project is designing a small cabin sailboat). Too bad WA State doesn't have a wood working teacher cert program--yet another example of the bias against vocational education.

    The article that got me thinking is here: RealClearPolicy - Stop Stigmatizing Vocational Education

    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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  3. #2  
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    Nov 2011
    city of wine and roses
    Too bad WA State doesn't have a wood working teacher cert program--yet another example of the bias against vocational education.
    Oh dear. You've lit the blue touchpaper. But maybe you don't need to "Stand back". I liked this quote in the link.

    We've elevated the importance of "higher education" to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled "alternative." Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as "vocational consolation prizes," best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of "shovel-ready" jobs for a society that doesn't encourage people to pick up a shovel.
    I'm not so keen on the "shovel" notion, there really aren't that many navvy jobs even when you're building roads and bridges (canals even), but people skilfully manipulating wrenches and insulated screwdrivers and welding kits will always be needed. And the people who use them need high quality arithmetic and algebra skills as well as good reading comprehension. Plumbers and electricians need to understand how all those symbols can move around from side to side and position to position in an equation. And every building trade needs most of its participants to understand health and safety regulations as well as the building codes or to work alongside someone who does. As for cars. I'd think reading comprehension just short of an Eng. Lit. degree would be needed to work your way through some of that stuff. Hairdressers? Need to be able to read and follow safety directions for the chemicals in their industry - I don't know whether cancer rates in ex-hairdressers have started to decline yet, but they never will unless the industry and the individual workers get familiar with the dangers inherent in their work.

    The one thing that frustrated me beyond anything when dealing with parents and schools involved with students whose learning had fallen behind was the presumption that "academic" learning was only for those interested in university education. Every student leaving high school needs to understand fractions and percentages and how to do money calculations as well as a good swag of algebra and geometry. And their reading comprehension needs to be better than the 12 year old / Year 7 standard for newspapers. Some people seem to think that it's a choice between black and white, do or die, university or dumb. Even if they start out as a builder's labourer, they need enough educational backing to be in a position to take up a trade seriously if they come across one that interests them even if they'd never heard of it at school.

    /rant over before it really gets going

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  4. #3  
    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    Jun 2013
    Resident of Big Island of Hawai'i since 2003, and in Bayside, Ca. since 1981, Humboldt since 1977
    We need woodworkers, and elecricians and construction workers and plumbers, mechanics, etc. They are IMPORTANT! Why is vocational training so looked down upon?

    My husband is a genius in his own right, however...he certainly is NOT an electrician or a plumber, and I APPRECIATE those that have those skill sets!
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