Motorcycles, tools, and garages! A little bit of everything mechanical and technical.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

"Why we need vocational education"...

School starts again tomorrow after a nice long (frigid) Christmas break.  Not really looking forward to waking up to the alarm clock tomorrow a.m., so I thought I'd do a little perusing on education to see if I couldn't maybe lessen the blow.  Came across this article in the Washington Post entitled "Why we need vocational education".  It's got all kinds of great ideas in it and several other links that I'd like to check out later, so I'm parking this link here for now until I have some time to chase it down in more detail.

Quickly though, I like the take on blue collar vs. white collar jobs and some of the perceptions and misconceptions about the two.  This trimester, I'm having my students do a little writing project once a week for bell work where they get to ponder one of Mike Rowe's points from his SWEAT Pledge, do some analyzing, and then synthesize some thoughts on the topic (take that, Mr. Bloom).   One example I like to use when talking about some of the points is my best friend.  He is a plumber.  He's very good at what he does, and has taken the time to become certified and currently owns and operates his own business.  He's got other things going on the side all the time and has become very talented at making money.  The kicker?  If I had to guess I would say he probably makes TRIPLE what I do as a teacher- with zero(?) college experience.

From the article:

I’m sure that most of you who teach high school have had some students confide that what they enjoyed doing most was working with their hands, whether on car engines, electrical circuits in the house, hair, or doing therapeutic massage. I bet that many of these students also confided that there is no way they could tell their parents that they’d rather pursue one of these occupations than go to college to prepare for a professional or business career.

 We live in a society that places a high value on the professions and white-collar jobs, and that still considers blue-collar work lower status. It’s no surprise that parents want their children to pursue careers that will maintain or increase their status. In high socio-economic communities this is even more evident. And for most teachers, if a student is academically successful, this will be seen as a “waste of talent.”

I've experienced this-  students have told me they want to be welders or something similar.  There is darn good money to be made, but it's also darn hard work.  It'll be interesting to see if I hear back from any of them in the next few years as my first group of students are just starting to graduate.  My biggest hope is that they can find something that they truly enjoy doing- not just something that pays the bills.

Five and a half years in, and I sure don't regret choosing something that puts a smile on my face most days!

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