In an article written by Nicholas Wyman for Forbes magazine, entitled Why We Desperately Need To Bring Back Vocational Training in Schools, the author looks at the current conundrum of “college prep” being the center of the US high school curriculum. Why is it that every student needs to be “prepped” for college when the reality is that many of them just aren’t wired that way?
What has happened to the balance of vocational and job-ready skills along with the mandatory reading, writing and arithmetic? Why aren’t we comfortable meeting our kids where they’re at and fostering their true motivation and energy? Why are we compelled to rally them down a path that many aren’t cut out for. It would appear that “college obsession” has become a national past-time.
Wyman notes that “people have a huge and diverse range of different skills and learning styles. Not everyone is good at math, biology, history and other traditional subjects that characterize college level work. Some students are mechanical; others are artistic. Some focus best in a lecture hall or classroom; others learn best by doing, and would thrive best in the studio, workshop or shop floor.”
Furthermore “almost 40% of students who begin four-year college programs don’t complete them, which translates into a whole lot of wasted time, wasted money, and burdensome student loan debt. Of those who do finish college, one-third will end up in jobs they could have had without a four year degree. Yet despite the growing evidence that college programs serve fewer and fewer students, states continue to cut vocational programs.”
“The US economy has changed. The manufacturing sector is growing and modernizing, creating a wealth of challenging, well-paying, highly skilled jobs for those with the skills to do them…Many of the jobs in manufacturing are attainable through apprenticeships, on-the-job training and vocational programs offered at community colleges. And contrary to what many parents believe, students who get job specific skills in high school and choose vocational careers often go on to get further education. The modern workplace favours those with solid, transferable skills who are open to continued learning.”
So is it time we woke up and smelled the wood-working bench again? Can we put aside our own filters about what’s best for our kids and let them decide what they’re truly energized by? We think so!