Teaching for work and survival

On this page we invite you to comment and discuss the "Teaching for work and survival" chapter presented to the class on Monday.

Through our close reading of the Green article "Training for Work and Survival" and subsequent discussion, we learned about the history of vocational education and how it continues to transform. For our presentation, done through Prezi, we focused on the differences and perceived differences between vocational and academic education. We analyzed whether these perceptions are indeed reflected in reality and whether or not the deep divide between these two teaching approaches is, in fact, justified..

Vocational education, besides its long history of being an educational path undertaken by minorities and those of lower socioeconomic status, is largely viewed with condescension in academic circles due to what is perceived as an overly occupationally focused and intellectually limiting curriculum. Traditionally, students engage in a heavily practical learn-by-doing approach but are rarely encouraged to seek intellectual development outside of their specialization. However, recent developments in vocational education have seen a more diverse, multi-disciplinary approach focused on exposing students to a variety of occupational and intellectual influences. We noted that this academic turn in vocational classes creates a more balanced and comprehensive approach towards education.

Likewise, traditionally academic education has seemed to take a more vocational turn in recent years, but in a somewhat hidden way. Although academic institutions have always promoted their focus on opening minds, intellectual development, and freedom of thought, many seem to have transformed into elite college or job preparatory programs. The focus has shifted towards standardized tests, job-specific proficiencies, and college application requirements. Lost, in this whirlwind of college/job preparation, has been much of the open-ended intellectual investigation that academic institutions claim to provide for their students. We highlighted this shift through a satirical mock-commercial for Harvard University, presented as a stereotypical trade school.

We concluded that, instead of viewing vocational and academic paradigms as two, completely separate, diametrically-opposed approaches, they should be seen on a spectrum. Vocational education, inevitably, will include theoretical academic elements, while academic education will, inevitably include real-world-applicable, vocation-specific aspects. Furthermore, we argue that this mixing of paradigms is the most balanced approach to a comprehensive education. By offering students an intellectually grounded, yet realistic and practical curriculum and attitude, we are giving them what they need to become complete thinkers and doers.


Other resources

NY Times article: http://nyti.ms/nIBi0Q from Dr. Stearns


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