Posts Tagged ‘role’
Arguments concerning vocational education have come and gone. In an era characterized by the push to getting all students to college, critics view this push as detrimental to the value of a college degree and, most importantly, to lives of the students. College isn’t for everyone, they say, and we’re wrong to assume that.
As such, the current argument for bringing back woodshop, autoshop and welding classes goes a little something like this:
What is the role of schools, but to prepare students for jobs? We should re-delegate that responsibility to the high schools and trade schools, where job training belongs, rather than impose that on colleges and universities.
Moreover, students who won’t go to college will just tune out school. Bringing back vocational programs will keep the bored students from skipping classes entirely.
My master teacher and I had a lengthy discussion about this idea, and we came up with no answers. I suppose if we did, we’d be busy writing some groundbreaking doctoral dissertation, earning the appreciation of all teachers ever along the way. We aren’t.
Sure, we could bring back, say, welding. But eventually, all the welding jobs will go to robots. They won’t need, or need as many, professional welders. We’d be preparing our students for jobs that won’t exist.
There’s always information technology. Google is making a few billion dollars, isn’t it?
But what is a Google? What does it Google produce? Can you go to a store and buy a Google?
That’s what I worry about with our economy. We used to have a lot of manufacturing jobs, but we don’t, anymore. Our economy is leaning towards companies like Google, which have no tangible product.
Google is an extension of information services and the advertising industries, two industries which, frankly, aren’t going anywhere.
How much of our economy could be information services and advertising, though? Those industries can’t keep growing forever; our entire economy can’t be based on marketing.
We left it at that. Vocational education can’t stick around with the tentative and unstable waves of the future, and it can’t go ahead and stick with the echoes of the past.
We agreed on this: Vocational education should exist, and should be an integral part of the high school curriculum. We just don’t know how.
I’ve had four teachers at my current, inner-city school compliment me on my intelligence at separate times. Each of the four immediately added that compulsory layer of “it won’t make you a good teacher.” This has been a source of frustration for me.
Mr. Bogush, for his part, also riffs on the hard-to-swallow theme of the four teachers in my department.
You have the “Curse of Knowledge” — you know so much that it is often impossible to realize what it was like to not know it. You are a thinker so initially it will be impossible for you to realize what it is like to be ignorant and naive. …
Unlike White Kids’ Unified, students have to come first at Podunk, Mr. Bogush said. Whether or not administrators demand it in Podunk doesn’t really matter — the situation already demands student-centric reflection.
At Podunk, you will have to reflect, reflect, reflect. Not about your curriculum, and not about your primary sources or images, but about your mindset and the students. Why do they think what they think? You are so smart that you will feel stupid. Day after day.
You will find that all the things in life you thought were important are not, and some of the things that you took for granted become precious. You will have to be a mom, dad, brother, sister, social worker, and thrift store operator first. Only then will you be able to teach. You will learn that the “smartness” that you have is worthless and you will have to figure out 100 other ways to a kids heart.
Don’t mind my interjection, but is smartness really worthless? I chalk this up to hyperbole. He continues:
Don’t let being too “smart” keep you away from Podunk — let it drive you there. You might hate it; you might dread every minute. However, it will make a “thinking teacher” stronger. You will learn skills and insights that you will never get from a book, from a person, or by working at the other school.
I had intended to reflect on his comment, but I couldn’t bring myself to add anything. Mr. Bogush sums it up his point of view, and I have no perspective to counter it.
No perspective, at least, that the teachers at my school would allow themselves to appreciate. As far as they’re concerned, smartness be damned: I’m a student teacher. I don’t have any business making judgment on high educational theory.
What is the role of smartness as a teacher? What is the role of reflection, at either White Kids’ Unified or BFE-Podunk Joint Unified, and is the role different between the two districts?
What follows is an excessively long comment I had made in a discussion with Sarah Hanawald, now made into a proper post. Also what follows is my understanding of the much-lauded Bloom’s Taxonomy which hopes to answer the modern question for Bloom: Does the ready availability of knowledge in the digital age change the importance of Knowledge?
Is it possible to have higher-level thinking without having been immersed and having memorized Knowledge, or should lists — formerly memorized by rote — be provided on tests to help out students who aren’t good at memorization?
My understanding of Bloom is that higher-level thinking first requires quite a lot of Knowledge. It is in an integral part of the way the mind works — easier access to this knowledge overall can’t replace rote memorization of the basic details. To make real analysis, synthesis and evaluation, students must draw on their internal databanks. Please: Correct me if I’m wrong.
That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be preparation. I had a whole Bill of Rights quiz that I insisted my students take. This quiz asked for answers from my students’ rote memorization. They should have been well-prepared for my exam because of that quiz, though I threw in some matching questions later on in the Big Test.
I do know that there is quite a variation in memory capabilities among all students.
Students should be encouraged to work on this by themselves, or with the guidance of another adult. This is a skill that cannot be underestimated, and should not be discouraged by providing lists on the test.
I believe students and teachers benefit when we design assessments that allow students to show us what they can do as well as identify what they cannot yet do.
Yet that that’s the realm of formative assessment, as in a quiz. This should not be the focus of a summative assessment, as in this unit test.
In our digital age, when quick information is a Google search away, is there meaning in memorization? I think there is, and I plan to continue this topic again on another day.