The School's Vocational Responsibility

The old school program was basically a one-track program. Its aim was academic training for further education. Some schools today are still of this pattern, although the two-track program is now more common. One curriculum aims toward academic advancement, and the other aims directly at vocational training. Even a more diversified program is needed in the average school system. Guidance loses a considerable part of its effectiveness if the school program is not versatile enough to train the student in the direction of his aptitudes. The school must also be equipped to follow up guidance and training with actual placement in the labor market. Studies of the American Youth Commission show clearly that young people sense a vital need for help in locating the jobs for which they are best fitted. They resort to everything from palm reading to blind trial and error in finding their way toward suitable vocations. Bell made the following indictment of education's failure to meet adequately the needs of youth in both fields. He indicated that they had found youth trying

. . . to find adequate satisfaction in such things as a secondary education that still prepares them for colleges that most of them will never see, in a system of vocational training that continues to train them for jobs that most of them will never find, and colleges of "liberal" arts that develop cultural tastes that a larger society refuses to satisfy . . . .

Three tendencies are operating to relieve the schools of the responsibility of providing young people with specialized vocational training. First, the limited extent to which modern occupations require such training. Second, the important role industry is playing in the provision of this training. And finally, the possibilities of the unfortunately slow but clearly obvious tendency to expand programs of apprenticeship, so that the schools' responsibility should be increasingly limited to the provision of part-time instruction related to the apprentice's needs.

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