Tags: One | Reporter's | Opinion | Vocational | Education | Noble | Pursuit

One Reporter's Opinion — Vocational Education Is a Noble Pursuit

Thursday, 16 August 2007 12:00 AM

It is this reporter's opinion that America is obsessed with the idea of putting everybody in college.

Let's face it; because of aptitude, inclination, lack of intellectual drive, and sheer boredom, we don't all belong in college.

Let's take another serious look at vocational education. In high school, I recall the curricula set aside courses in manual training — shop classes for the boys, domestic pursuits for the young ladies. The young men learned how to drive a nail. The young ladies learned sewing, knitting, and other domestic chores.

To put it bluntly, too much of present-day educational programs are a plain bore. We make a real mistake if we think everyone will receive self fulfillment studying humanities or pure math. Some people may get more out of education by learning the skills necessary to be a good plumber, mechanic, metal shop worker, or carpenter.

One major reason for the boredom is that regular class work doesn't bear any relationship to what students envision as their life's work. The question becomes, Do we whet their appetite for what might well be their life's work?

There has to be a reason why here in California roughly a third of our ninth graders drop out of high school. In Los Angeles, the number of dropouts amounts to one-half of all blacks and Latinos. That leaves hundreds of thousands of students outside of the mainstream. They could be learning middle-class job skills.

Teach them a trade! Restore the shop classes that have all but disappeared. Motivate these dropouts to pursue their own chosen career via career and technical training. And while we are at it, dispel the utterly foolish and incessantly communicated falsehood that the only thing of value for a young person is a college degree . . . that a person is not of value unless that person goes to college.

In California, we shouldn't have to tell the governor that vocational education is of first-line value. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should be an expert on the subject. Recently he said, ". . . as I have said earlier, I am a product of career tech education. Between the time I was 15 and 18 I went to school in Austria to learn how to be a salesman." He learned his lesson well.

Vocational education can be costly. It requires equipment and updating. And admittedly, when politicians look at their budget problems, vocational education is the first program to go on the chopping block.

It is time to get our roving vans of school dropouts off the streets and give them a new interest in our mutual futures.

Vocational guidance and manual training are noble pursuits.

We are not all Einsteins; yet even Albert Einstein took pride in working with his hands. Each of us has a skill of some kind just waiting to be developed and nurtured.

Prove to these dropouts that there has never been a more important and essential training than learning to work with your hands. It is what built America. Learning a trade would not only restore their self-esteem and build character, it would provide these kids with a means to earn a good living and become productive members of society.

We did it once. And we can do it again.

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It is this reporter's opinion that America is obsessed with the idea of putting everybody in college. Let's face it; because of aptitude, inclination, lack of intellectual drive, and sheer boredom, we don't all belong in college. Let's take another serious look at...
One,Reporter's,Opinion,Vocational,Education,Noble,Pursuit
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2007-00-16
Thursday, 16 August 2007 12:00 AM
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