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ERIC Number: EJ1044008
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0148-432X
Not Your Father's Shop Class: Bridging the Academic-Vocational Divide
Rose, Mike
American Educator, v38 n3 p12-17 Fall 2014
When this author was in high school in the 1960s, the curriculum was split into three tracks: an academic or college-preparatory track, a general education track, and a vocational track. Upon entrance, students were placed in one of them based on their previous academic records or a measure of ability, typically an IQ score. From the beginning of curriculum tracking, some educators and social critics were concerned that this way of educationally stratifying young people was undemocratic. It was also generally felt that vocational education, on the whole, was not providing a good education. This concern was summed up by the authors of a 1993 report from the National Center for Research in Vocational Education: "Vocational teachers emphasized job-specific skills to the almost complete exclusion of theoretical content. One result was that the intellectual development of vocational students tended to be limited at a relatively early age." School are charged with cognitive development, yet in the very curriculum that places work at its core, was found a restriction of intellectual growth. However, remarkable amounts of effort by educators, policymakers, advocacy groups, and parents has resulted over the last few decades in a dismantling of formal tracking. Although patterns of inequality still exist in the courses students take, in this current time, there is the emergence of a belief that college is possible for everyone. Also, there has been a significant effort to reform vocational education, to beef up its academic content, and to provide better pathways to both postsecondary education and to employment. Some high schools, for example, have developed "career academies," which allow students to be introduced to an occupation (from the arts to healthcare) while taking academic courses that draw on occupational topics and materials. Recent events have sparked renewed interest in Career and Technical Education (CTE) as some economists and policymakers are questioning the viability of the push for college for all, and pointing to the kinds of mid-level technical jobs that might require a postsecondary occupational credential but not a two-or four-year degree. Rose concludes that the Great Recession has given some weight to this argument and CTE now involves more technical and design courses, seen as academically substantial and viable in a 21st-century economy.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A