“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Should we revisit vocation in schools, yes we should! I believe that in today’s technology era, experience in vocation still matters. Vocational educational gives an opportunity for all students to find the best pathway towards future successes. There is a certain stigma around vocational education. Being on a vocational track in high school doesn’t mean that you aren’t college and career ready. There are a lot of misconceptions around vocational education that cause people to believe that it doesn’t empower students to go to college. This is not true! There should be a standard for every student to be college and career ready; with the understanding that college is also a choice. Every child’s strength isn’t found within a core academic course or subject. This is why we should revisit providing support for vocation education in schools.
#1 – It’s a Choice
A lot of stakeholders are advocating for school choice. Well, let’s add vocational education to the list. I believe it gives students a choice. It should be treated as a choice and not suggested as alternative. I believe that vocational education benefit all students. It helps prepare students for the work force. Imagine students being able to spend some of their time in vocational courses beginning in middle school. Schools can schedule for students to spend some of their time doing an apprenticeship at a host company as an example of how this can work. Vocation in schools can also provide opportunities for students to go into certification programs and have add ons to their diploma.
#2 – It Creates Partnerships
Vocation support is a benefit of engaging partnerships with the business sector. School districts can develop partnerships for students to attend industry courses at a local industry training center. This can eventually lead to the development of training centers within local high schools. Building complementary practical skills relating to the occupation at hand helps students and businesses. The business sector and community can support local and community schools by partnering with them to provide on site job training. I believe it would even be helpful for companies to provide job training exposure and support for students and parents. This type of partnerships between city municipalities gives more of our youth a chance to succeed as opposed to becoming a statistic. A good example of organizations for this type of partnership are the Atlanta Workforce Development and A City of Refuge in Atlanta. Another example of a great partnership between the community and schools is the new Chick Fil A on Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. in Atlanta. They have created a partnership with local historic Booker T. Washington School High School to ensure students are employed and prepared for the workforce.
#3 – It Produces Application
One of the questions I hear a lot from youth in after school, tutoring or mentoring programs is, does school really make a difference? In lessons plans, the real life application area to me is critical to making the lesson stick. This helps to demonstrate to students that school is important because it’s preparing us for the future. Students need to see how to apply what they are learning in academic and elective courses to their lives. Vocation courses in my opinion are a great way to bridge the gap between lessons taught and real life experience. Application turns mathematics into economics, language arts into communication, social studies into civics and science into critical thinking.
There are many great examples of vocation working in school. Atlanta Public Schools CRIM High School is a great example for how vocation infused in an academic setting for students makes a huge difference in how students perform both in and out of the classroom. Most importantly, it provides a safe, structured environment for learning to take place that ultimately leads to career sustainability. I believe that programs such as the one at CRIM high school truly shows why we should revisit supporting vocation courses in all schools. Let’s give all students the choice to succeed.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.