Not All Knowledge is Useful
High school students tend to get the same curriculum. They partake in similar courses year by year with a schedule pushed upon them. Each student spends 4 years learning the same things, the same general things, and then gets sent off to college or wherever they shall go. With a broad plain of general knowledge how far can they go without roadblocks. Now we can think about the other side. “Useful knowledge.” The knowledge that prepares these students specifically for college and the workforce. For myself, I think that I received an education providing me with useful knowledge from my time before college. I opted into the choice to attend a vocational school with a wide range of career focused academies, in which I had partaken in the engineering academy. Each student took courses from any high school curriculum, as well as pure vocationally focused courses. These vocational courses focused students towards different fields that they wished to work in for the future but these courses aren’t given to everyone. Students lacking college and career preparation courses tend to have a more troublesome time than their counterparts. My experience with the vocational education system leads me to firmly believe this. I went into a vocational high school for engineering and ultimately turned away from it. Even though I went a different direction, I still got the career focused and college preparation courses. Some students don’t even think about what they want to do after high school and get left behind while other students like myself are much further ahead of the game because I got to experience a different system than the majority.
Not all students are the same. Some may know what job field they want to go into after high school and others may not even know until after college. This is the importance of variety. A vocational student may not know entirely what they want to pursue yet but they have the options available to them. Whereas, a non vocational student may know exactly what they want to pursue but get caught years behind because they aren’t given the opportunity. These students should have the same chances to do what they wish. Everyone will come along eventually to pursue what they want and holding someone back simply based on where they go to school is highly unfair. Students should have the same general curriculums but be given a choice. Both vocational and non-vocational students should be given these courses that will interest them. Not only will the courses interest them but they will also prepare them. The career focused courses are designed to prepare students for the similar higher level courses and a continuation to the study of the field they will experience in college.
As said by the author of Career Education Now, Sidney P Marland Jr, “It is terribly important to teach a youngster the skills he needs to live, whether we call them academic or vocational, whether he tends to make his living with a wrench or a slide rule or a folio of Shakespeare. But it is critically important to equip that youngster to live his life as a fulfilled human being.” She is 100% correct in this judgement. Say, for example, a student is looking into internships or job options after high school and each one describes a specific set of requirements that they would not even think possible at their age because of what they have been given. All the while, another student was given the exact subjects and materials that they need from their schooling system for this position. Cases can arise where non-vocational students can excel just as much as vocational students but they are barely given the chance. The opportunities for the vocational students to stay ahead compared differs heavily. These said students falling behind can lead to needing more classes which can result in more work and more unnecessary stress for students who would otherwise be excelling in their fields.
Students drop out for a multitude of reasons, some able to be controlled. One reason being the knowledge these kids are receiving is just plain boring to them. The students aren’t engaged in the courses and feel as if dropping out will be better for them. In the writing College Knowledge the authors, Sarah Hooker and Betsy Brand state, “High school dropouts report that their primary reason for leaving school were that the classes were uninteresting or irrelevant to the world beyond high school or that they felt alienated and unsupported.” It has even gotten to the extreme point where “Approximately 7200 students drop out of U.S. schools each day.” In one year, this adds up to 1.3 million students who, if were given more of a chance, could have done great things for our world.
Keeping students engaged is one of, if not, the most important thing for schooling. Teaching every student, no matter where they wanna go or what they wanna be, the same knowledge produces a bad look on the schooling system and really makes a person think, what are we even teaching the kids these days? Students should be given the resources they need and be taught things that will progress their education to a point where they feel confident and ready to enter college, and soon after the working world. Schooling that gives a student the right tools to further their education tends to show much greater results than schooling which does not. It feels like these schools aren’t even trying to engage their students. The “general knowledge” received by the non-vocational students proves to be much more inferior to its counterpart. While the vocational group is thriving, getting ready for college and their future life in their careers at an earlier stage, non-vocational students seem to sit there in confusion when exposed to the world after high school.
Marland, Sidney. “Career Education Now.” Sagepub, 1 May 1971, journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.rowan.edu/doi/pdf/10.1177/019263657105535501.
Hooker, Sarah. “College Knowledge: A Critical Component of College and Career Readiness.” Onlinelibrary-Wiley-Com, 2010, onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ezproxy.rowan.edu/doi/epdf/10.1002/yd.364.