On NPR this morning the story in the news segment was about the growth in manufacturing jobs and how it had slowed during this time of recovery, in part because of the lack of skill technicians. VW in Chattanooga announced yesterday it may open its next plant in Mexico. VW also went worldwide in a job search for skilled technicians. On CBS News This Morning, (April 12, 2012) they reported on a VISA scam, not Visa the card but VISA the immigration program, where a company (one of many) is bringing in people from India to work in their company, their factory, their stores, because of the lack of skilled labor here. Anybody see the message?
Across the United States if you visited most any local high school and walked into their “Vocational Training” section, you would perhaps see young men and women engaged in skilled training. But not as many as you used to see.
In Tennessee the Vocational Classes and the clubs that support this skilled training was known for years as VICA (Vocational Industrial Clubs of America) they changed their names over the past ten years to try and morph themselves into a more professional sounding organization. The classes/courses are now called CTE (Career Technical Education) and the clubs are called SKILLS USA. All of this to make the whole training of the uncleaned masses more palatable to those in higher education who look down their extremely long noses at the idea of technical/vocational education.
Since the 60’s and 70’s the primary idea in education, the goal of American Mom’s and Dad’s everywhere, was that little Johnny must go to college and be the ruler of the world. College was the only path to success. As a parent I am measured by how intelligent (means how much college and what degree obtained) are my children.

While visiting an English classroom at a local rural school recently, the lesson was centered around a discussion about the novel Treasure Island and all the intricate meaning the author hid in the pages of this great story. While the majority of the students seemed engaged, partially due to the attractiveness of the teacher, the fact that I was observing the classroom, and the story itself, there were more than a few off in dreamland. As I followed these students over the next few days, the classes they were the most engaged in were CTE classes. Nursing, agricultural classes, construction type classes, all where they were engaged and were reading technical manuals. But these students and these type classes are fast becoming orphan courses. We as Americans have such an inflated sense about ourselves that we look down on the daily technicians as lower class people. That is just fact and no amount of sugar coating it by changing the terminology will change that perspective. The business mantra of the educational complex is — To be successful you must be a college graduate. No — to be successful you must be a good person, respectful of others and a contributing member of an ordered society. When did we change our educational philosophy and why?

One thought on “Vocations

  1. L M Ritter

    What you say is true. When you teach to a test all the time, you develop test taking skills which don’t translate well into life skills and real world problem solving. Hands-on learning is becoming a thing of the past because there is no time to fit it in. This is the world of two minute sound bites.


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