【國外編輯部專欄】技職生最不想聽到的一句話:這些東西對你來說太難了!

 

作者/Sothy EngChristi Sullivan

編譯/陳采華、 陳嵩仁

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技職生最不想聽到的一句話:這些東西對你來說太難了!

不知道是第幾次在美容學校聽到這句話了。同學說、老師說、家長也這麼說。

但,我從來沒有後悔過。

應屆畢業生大多會排好畢業後的計畫,且一貫認為本該如此,但其實其實除了四年制的大學外,我們還是有其他的選擇技職學校。 雖然這點常被人忽略,但大眾應該嚴肅看待技職學校,將其作為另一個教育、學習、職業生涯的途徑。

現今許多學生追求大學文憑只因為他們覺得,讀大學這件事是「應該」要做的。最後,他們不僅沒找到工作還背了一屁股債。《幹盡苦差事》的主持人麥克‧羅呼籲學生要正視四年制是否能夠帶領他們完成目標,不要因為職涯老師建議的「要聰明工作,而不是辛苦工作」才將大學當作唯一路徑。

再來的問題是技術工作需求量大,卻總是缺人。如果高中畢業後沒有馬上升學,學生可以仔細想想他們究竟想追求什麼,再去選擇其對應的教育體系。

社會對技職教育的刻板印象不外乎是二流的,讀大學才具優勢。從專業角度來看,教育的目的應該是社會再製,讓每個人能依照自己的能力發揮所長。

巴西當代成人教育學者保羅.弗雷勒(Paulo Freire)在受壓迫者教育學》一書主張,人們應解放自己,不受外在批判性言論的影響。人們應知道,技職學校遭受的不平等與忽視阻礙著努力工作、發展知識與技能的人的發展。

英國《經濟學家》雜誌呼籲美國應該實施職業培訓,但這在美國是最受歧視的。不幸的是,大多數人都這麼認為;諷刺的是,許多薪資優渥的技術工作,找不到持有證照者擔任。

在我看來,這個問題最沮喪的是只有一個明確的解決方案,那就是提高技職教育的品質,而不是一味的把學生都推向大學教育。其實世界上仍有些國家把技職辦的有聲有色,他們對抗社會偏見,建立起讓學生與家長都能自豪的體系,這些國家學生之間的成績差距正好也都比美國低。

《世界教育》一書的作者Vivien Stewart支持技職教育改革,為的是提高教育公平性。他舉出新加坡為此投注大量資金在校園設施和職員上,嚴謹把關課程品質,才能創造成功的技職體系。

技職培訓計劃應與知識經濟培訓相互關聯(而非對立),培養學生包括創造性問題解決能力、合作、批判思考、高階思維等等。如果學生「太聰明」,那就再往前囉!

我看過許多學生進入職業培訓計劃,一開始充滿激情與熱情,但最後嘴裡只剩下苦澀,不知道往那裡走。學生在學校向他們的老師、管理人員、僱主與施政者學習,但這些人都沒善盡職責,最後,學生也跟著有樣學樣。職校少了傳統公立學校的資源與指導,間接粉碎學生的興趣。一些充滿熱誠的老師試著讓職校也保有公立學校的學科,然而其他人總是告訴他們,傳統的學科對這些學生來說「太難了」。直到最後,這些熱血老師也放棄了。這是我們最失敗的地方。

好消息是,全世界漸漸意識到這問題的存在以及社會階級的不平等現象。聯合國呼籲技職教育與培訓要轉變為因應國家經濟及失業議題,且著重縮短技能差距。美國國際開發總署USAID也慢慢擴大高等教育與勞動力發展計劃的目標,期望能打造具相關技能的勞動力,協助國家發展。

此外,受人推崇的國際文憑基金會(IB)正努力為了升學或立即就業的學生們,將導入職能導向課程。

如果我們想從學生身上看到工作倫理和職業道德,就要由我們來樹立典範。所有投身於技職學校的教育者都應負起應有的績效責任。每個學生都是充滿能力跟潛力的,你的責任非常重大。你知道現在的社會大多忽視你的努力和工作,但你必須抵抗並傳遞正確的信念給你的的學生。你希望你的學生學到什麼,都跟你在學校的行為與態度息息相關。

我想對就讀技職學校的學生說:認真看待一切。當所有人對我說「這些東西對你來說太難了」的時候,我正忙著精進自己!其他人說什麼都不關你的事,但你有責任證明你的工作是值得尊敬的。事情不會平白無故改變,適時的向校方和施政者施壓,要以自己現在學習的專業為傲。面對不平等的事情,做好隨時會失望或被白眼的可能性,但不要因此失去你的韌性或熱忱。畢竟不是每個人都有幸擁有受教的權利。

記住,「這些東西對你來說太難了」不是個藉口。你所經歷的、透過非傳統方式獲得的將成為你非常寶貴的經驗。嘗試不同的路,找一個你會愛上的事情,對你的未來負責,你所擁有的一切,教育、生活都是自己創造的。

 

【作者介紹】Sothy Eng

美國理海大學國際文教與比較教育學系教授

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You’re Too Smart For That

This is the phrase I’ve heard countless times from peers, parents and teachers over the years since attending a cosmetology school. I did it anyway and I have never regretted it for a minute.

Recent graduates often consider their post-high school plans to be predetermined and taken as a given, but there are other options besides a four-year degree. Although commonly forgotten and neglected, technical and vocational schools should be invested in, taken seriously, and accepted as a legitimate path to continuing education, intellectual fulfillment, and a successful career.

A common problem today is an overabundance of Bachelor’s degrees with no purpose or end goal. Students have the perception that a four-year college is their only option and end up putting themselves in tremendous amounts of debt with no end goal in mind. Many students pursue a four-year degree simply because that is what they are “supposed” to do rather than as a means to an end, and as a result they end up unemployed and in debt. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs urges students to seriously consider how a four-year degree will get them to their goal, rather than assuming college is the only option because of a guidance counselor’s suggestion to “work smart, not hard“.

Another problem is a large supply of technical jobs and not enough people to fill them. If students weren’t hoarded into a four year college immediately after high school, they could make a decision about what they actually want to accomplish in their lives and choose their education accordingly.

There is a general social perception that technical schools are looked down upon and considered “second class.” From a functionalist perspective, the purpose of schooling is considered as a social reproduction of class that sorts people into a certain role based on their ability. Attending college might be seen as a value associated with the dominant class whereas technical training school with working class. Tracking is therefore justified to suit the specific educational needs and various abilities of individuals. According to Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the people should liberate themselves to become critically aware of the systematic inequalities reinforced by the dominant class. People need to be aware that the neglect of technical and vocational school perpetuates social inequalities and fails to provide an avenue where those who work hard and develop their knowledge and skills will succeed.

The Economist calls vocational training “America’s most sneered-at high-school programme,” and unfortunately, most people would probably agree. Ironically, there is a huge supply of technical jobs that pay a decent salary, and not enough people with the appropriate certifications to fill them.

While 8.5 percent of recent bachelor degree graduates are unemployed, trade school employment is in demand, almost impossible to outsource, and will never be usurped by the internet.

In my opinion, the most frustrating thing about this issue is that there is a clear solution: invest in improving the quality and access of technical and vocational education and refrain from shoving anyone and everyone into a four-year degree program regardless of career goals. With inadequate facilities, undertrained an unappreciated staff, and outdated curriculum and equipment, it is no mystery why these institutions are often seen by students and their parents as unattractive.

There are other countries doing this with great success; they are able to combat societal prejudice and create a prestigious technical and vocational program that students and their parents can be proud of. These also happen to be the countries with lower achievement gaps than the United States. In A World Class Education, Vivien Stewart supports the reform of technical and vocational education schools to improve the overall equity of education, and cites Singapore as a country that has built a very successful system of technical and vocational schools by investing in the facilities and staff and upholding a rigorous curriculum.

Technical and vocational training programs should be intertwined with (not in opposition to) the knowledge economy training, including skills such as creative problem solving, cooperation, and critical and higher order thinking. If the students are “too smart” for the curriculum, then let’s advance it.

I have seen students enter a career training program full of passion and enthusiasm and leave beaten down with a bitter taste in their mouth and no idea where to go from there. The only thing these students learned in school is that their teachers, administrators, owners, and policy makers don’t take their roles seriously, and now they no longer do either. The current state of many technical and vocational schools serves to crush the enthusiasm of students who might have discovered something they love, but did not receive the resources or direction that one would expect from a traditional public school. The passion teachers try to inspire in traditional academics exists in technical schools, but they are told they are “too smart for it” until they come to believe it. As educators, administrators, and policy makers, the failure is ours.

The good news is that the world recognizes this problematic gap and the social class inequalities that come along with it. The United Nations is calling for the transformation of TVET systems in response to many countries economic and unemployment issues, and is focusing on the skill gaps. USAID has included, under their goal of expanding access to higher education and workforce development programs, an improved ability of tertiary and workforce development programs to produce a workforce with relevant skills to support country development goals. Additionally, the respected International Baccalaureate (IB) program is incorporating a Career-related Program (CP) into curriculum, leading to either further education or immediate employment.

So there is hope for the future of technical and vocational education, but it will take work. As educators, administrators, owners, employers, and parents, let’s model the determination, work ethic, and professional behavior we would like to see in our students. To all educators at technical and vocational schools: take responsibility for the culture of your school. View and treat your students as competent and full of potential, because they are. For some of your students, you may be all they have; do not take that responsibility lightly. You are already aware that most of society will overlook your effort and disregard your work as irrelevant, but continue to resist internalizing that. By adopting that belief, you pass it along to your students. Take a personal ownership in the collective attitude of your school and model the behaviors and attitudes you want your students to learn.

And most importantly, to those enrolled in technical and vocational education: take your work seriously. While everyone was busy telling me that I’m too smart for this, I was busy getting ahead. Other people’s opinion is none of your business, but it is your responsibility to demonstrate through excellence that your work is something to be valued. Things will not change on their own, so pressure your administrators and policy makers and be willing to collaborate. Take pride in what you do. Give a piece of yourself to every project you create and make yourself proud. As with all inequalities, prepare to be disappointed sometimes and looked down upon, but never lose resilience or enthusiasm. After all, your education itself, as well as your own participation in it, is a fantastic gift that not everyone is fortunate enough to have.

Remember that “It’s not fair” is no more of an excuse than “You’re too smart for that” is an argument, and the experience you gain through nontraditional paths will contribute an invaluable perspective later on. So take the road less traveled, find something you can fall in love with, take responsibility for your future, and give it everything you have. Your education, as with life, is what you make it.

 

【Author】Sothy Eng

Professor of Practice of Comparative and International Education at Lehigh University

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圖片來源:flickr@Steven Depolo

原文刊登於《HuffingtonPost.com》,經作者Sothy Eng授權編譯,未經許可不得轉載

 

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《技職3.0》為一個關注「技職教育」與「技能發展」議題的獨立媒體。

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