Monday, January 29, 2007

Vocational Education

I know that the proper term is now Career and Technical Education but I want to highlight the difference between education that prepares the student for direct entry into the workplace and education that prepares the student for life.

My focus is on the high school experience. I recognize the many different needs and motivations at the college, technical college and university levels

Much of this knowledge is the same. Yet, for many, there is a great divide. "Education" that is the education some students get that will lead them to post-secondary education is never considered 'vocational' Yet by far when you ask students why they want to go on to university they will say because they want to get good jobs.

"Vocational Education" is considered by many to be inferior. It is so directly focused on the work place and 'training' that the students aren't considered educated.

This morning I was listening to a radio reporter talk about a welding program being set up in Northern Saskatchewan to prepare workers for the coming boom in the oil industry up there. It is amazing that preparation for one of the major industries in Saskatchewan is left to little programs set up by business people.

On the other hand credit card debt, especially by young people, is growing exponentially. Total personal debt is also growing among the young as well. The school rarely addresses personal financial management in any coherent or meaningful way.

Everyone, including those that drop out of school and those that continue on in school, will work at something, earn and spend money and try to create a decent life for themselves and their families.

We teach them to appreciate literature and art. We teach them to calculate and understand history. We teach them to play games and to exercise. We teach them foreign languages. We teach them about science. All good things. All things that some people will appreciate and use throughout their lives.

But we seem to neglect that which everyone will use throughout their lives as a natural course of living.

Filthy lucre - don't talk about it.

The rich are the scum of the earth in every country.
G. K. Chesterton, Flying Inn (1914)
English author & mystery novelist (1874 - 1936)