Vocational Education

Joe Klein has an article in Time magazine (May 14, 2012) entitled “Learning that Works”  on vocational education.  The most arresting information: Students in these programs do better on state comprehensive tests, graduate from high school at a higher rate and go on to post-secondary education also at a higher rate than nonvocational students.  Of course.  If for no other reason than CTE (Career and Technical Education) courses immerse their students in the physical world – an environment that provides immediate feedback and accepts no excuses.  Mis-suture a sheep or leave a bolt untightened and the consequences are harsh.  The world of a teenager is physical – tactile and kinetic.  Young people are in optimum condition for learning  any hands-on practical knowledge.  And the concrete world enforces its own discipline requiring close attention, consistency, planning and self-confidence.  These traits are also necessary for success in life and for success as a student of any kind.  So, of course Voc Ed students can be and are also successful in their academic endeavors.

On a personal note, a zillion years ago I dropped out of graduate school.  As I now understand it, I was depressed.  I call those few years of knocking around the country my “hippy years” without the drugs.  But really that was the time I found myself – at least myself in the physical world.  I worked in factories, on farms and in restaurants and any other place that would take me.  I learned to cut felt, dry tobacco, and cook Chinese style.  I learned to knit, to sew and to repair my possessions.  I particularly acquired good carpentry skills and developed enough confidence to build a stone house and also enough confidence to stand up in front of a classroom of strangers and start my teaching career.


About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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