How the Germans (and others) do voc ed

Nancy Hoffman’s Schooling in the Workplace: How Six of the World’s Best Vocational Education Systems Prepare Young People for Jobs and Life reminds us of how much the U.S. has neglected vocational education, writes Graham Down in an Ed Next review.

Believing in equality of educational opportunity, U.S. schools promote the same goal — some sort of college — to all students, Hoffman writes. Our competitors — Germany,  Austria, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland – integrate job training with academics, increasingly moving learning from the classroom to the workplace.

In the U.S., Hoffman sees promising  CTE (Career and Technical Education) in Big Picture Learning schools, Project Lead the Way and Linked Learning  However, the U.S. culture makes it very hard to offer vocational training without promising that most students will end up going to college.

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  1. We should remember, particularly comparing HS-level international test results, that most countries do not prepare all kids for college and the kids not on the college track do not get tested.
    We need to get back to offering high-quality vo-tech options in this country. They used to be within the HS or in a separate vo-tech HS (like the one where my FIL was principal), but it’s probably better now to have them in a CC or similar institution. I don’t trust the k-12 establishment and its credentialism mania; requiring college degrees and ed courses for vo-tech instructors would be within that worldview. I don’t care if my hairdresser, my mechanic or my HVAC guy has any degree; expertise in their fields is quite enough.