Singapore does voc ed too

Known for high scores in math and science, Singapore also offers high-quality career training in 11th and 12th grade to students who aren’t academically inclined, reports Education Week.

“Streaming” works in Singapore partly because all students receive a strong grounding in core academic subjects, such as math, early in school, said Alan Ginsburg, the director of policy and program studies at the Education Department. As a result, students enter career-oriented classes with skills that help them in class and on the job, said Mr. Ginsburg, who has studied math curriculum in Singapore.

. . . Too many American students with a strong career focus, by contrast, do not receive sufficient academic content, and thus “never get the skills they need to be employable,” he said.

Singapore’s vocational schools work closely with employers so students graduate with marketable skills.

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  1. tim-10-ber says:

    This sounds great!! I am very concerned that the small learning communities being introduced in the high schools in my district are too weak to give the kids the skills and academic foundation they need to be successful after high school. Of course, because our middle schools are a disaster and the elementary schools are deteriorating…this is not a surprise…

  2. The problem doesn’t start in middle school; elementary schools are even more of a problem. If kids have a strong foundation in math and reading, including nonfiction in science and history/geography and composition, they can increase their knowledge by reading on their own. Thus, they can survive and even surmount the middle school weaknesses, if they are motivated. Without that skill and knowledge base, far too many kids are so far behind the 8-ball that catching up is unlikely – certainly the middle schools are unlikely to help them.

    Elementary schools, like middle schools, have abandoned the whole idea of teaching the basics and building a foundation for further learning; instead embracing a series of toxic ideologies – self-esteem, balanced literacy (whole language), the spiral curriculum, the removal of content knowledge in favor of “strategies”, group work, peer tutoring and heterogeneous grouping which may include full mainstreaming.

    If the elementary and middle schools were doing their jobs, the majority of kids would arrive in high school ready to do serious preparation for either skilled vocations or college. Unfortunately, the need to pretend that even the most severely disabled are capable of mastering a real curriculum is depriving the majority of kids of that opportunity. It is also depriving those at the lower end (but not the bottom) of the disabled spectrum of the kind of training in life and job skills that would enable them to contribute to their own support, even if they will need guardianship.

  3. Frank Zavisca says:

    So what’s new?

    I have seen 8th grade exams from the 1890’s USA.

    Most of today’s “high school grads” couldn’t pass that test.

    Fewer went to collega, but they didn’t have to. They were better educated by high school than many of today’s “college grads”.

  4. Elementary schools, like middle schools, have abandoned the whole idea of teaching the basics and building a foundation for further learning;

    Here in Texas the push has been Bloom’s Taxonomy and getting kids to the higher levels. My question has always been, how can they reach these higher levels if they don’t have the foundation to build it on?

    But that’s what happens when you have politicians making the decisions and not real educators.

  5. Ponderosa says:

    Mike and Mom of 4, good points! We had an “expert” from the Contra Costa County department of education provide us with an in-service in which she hammered away at the idea that “lower-order” thinking (i.e. specific knowledge) is virtually worthless and eliciting “higher-order” thinking is the only worthy thing a teacher can do. She told us to “recalibrate” our curricula so that every lesson gets our students to demonstrate “higher order” thinking. Of course, none of my colleagues dissented. The education thoughtworld is frighteningly homogeneous. Of the hundreds of thousands of teachers and adminstrators in America, I would guess that only a few hundred or so think like us.