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ERIC Number: EJ791362
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1086-4822
The Interdependency of Vocational and Liberal Aims in Higher Education
Abowitz, Kathleen Knight
About Campus, v11 n2 p16-22 May-Jun 2006
Many college and university students are zeroed in on their vocational pursuits. Often very narrowly focused, many college students simplistically equate a college education with a vocational education. In situations of advising, teaching, or life coaching, teachers often encounter students who believe that college is largely preparation for a job. Such a view diminishes the importance of the humanistic and intellectual inquiry that is so important to college life. Rather than asking themselves, "How do I wish to live?" many students ask, "How can I learn how to make my living?" This author contends that, because higher education has become so obsessed with fulfilling vocational aims, the larger and collective sense of education is faltering. Students who enroll in college with the focused aim of being an accountant, teacher, or speech pathologist seek knowledge to build a meaningful life, but if educators teach subjects like business, education, or speech pathology as skills, techniques, or mere methods to professional ends, they fail to provide a meaningful education. Vocational education cannot ignore larger questions of context, culture, ethics, and politics, nor should it evade students' existential questions. Indeed, questions of purpose, meaning, and identity are central to what it means to occupy a vocation. The journey to becoming a professional is the journey of building one's life, with particular but by no means exclusive focus on one part of that life (the paid work). This essay explores how faculty and student affairs educators can help students explore connections between their work and the larger questions of life involving meaning, purpose, and values. (Contains 5 notes.)
Jossey Bass. Available from John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774. Tel: 800-825-7550; Tel: 201-748-6645; Fax: 201-748-6021; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A