Sunday, September 16, 2007

Business Education and Vocational Education (CTE)

In my last post I hinted that I felt business was too influential is setting curricula in business education. Business education operates in at least four areas. The first, and to me the primary area is at the pre-k to 12 level. The second, and again to me a primary area, is at the college/technical college level. The last two areas are at the University level, generally in Colleges or Faculties of Business and in industry - often referred to as training and development or Human resource development.

The latter two areas of interest are occupied by more than the traditional 'business educator." University level business schools are staffed by professors who are devoted and focused on their primary content areas of interest - accounting, finance, marketing, organizational behaviour, etc. And industry is often concerned with the development of specific skills and abilities which are needed by their employees.

In my view the college/technical college level of business education is truly vocational. Students frequently attend courses at this level expecting to be trained in specific skills which are required in order to be eligible for particular jobs. It is likely and probable that graduates of these programs will apply for and work in the jobs for which they have been specifically trained. It is right and proper for the curriculum of these courses to be determined by the needs of those target jobs.

However the pre-K to 12 system should not be built for direct job entry. In fact we are told that many employers are looking for more mature, more educated employees than high school dropouts or even high school graduates.

There is no doubt that business education at the high school level has a vocational (career and technical education) component. But when that component takes over - for whatever reason - our students lose.

What do they lose? The lose the ability to see the economic and business environment in which they live as a manageable environment. They lose the insight into their own ability to influence this environment.

They lose the opportunity to learn how to critique the business/economic environment from individuals (teachers) who have studied and understand the issues in this environment.

They don't lose the notion that they must fit into this environment or that they will lose out economically and/or financially.

Only teaching pre-k to 12 students skills needed for immediate employment and /or the skills and attitudes needed to be 'good' employees deprives our students of important critical thinking skills and deprives society of creative, innovative and 'different' people who might just help us progress, develop and become a better society

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