Saturday, February 26, 2011

college or career? Why not both.

The report from Harvard challenging the notion that all kids should go to college is under assault by advocates for the disadvantaged according to this article in Education Week. College for All Confronted.
The authors contend that their vision would expand opportunity for all students, especially those who face the dimmest prospects now because their education stops at high school. Rather than derailing some students from higher learning, their system would actually open more of those pathways, they say, by offering sound college preparation and rigorous career-focused, real-world learning, and by defining clear routes from secondary school into certificate or college programs.

"Every high school graduate should find viable ways of pursuing both a career and a meaningful postsecondary degree or credential,” the report says. “For too many of our youth, we have treated preparing for college versus preparing for a career as mutually exclusive options.”
The opponents to the report are concerned with further disadvantage being placed on the poor and disadvantaged:
"They’re arguing for different standards and separate tracks,” said Kati Haycock, the president of the Education Trust, a Washington-based group that focuses on policies to improve education for low-income students. “Every single time we create multiple tracks, we always send disproportionate numbers of poor kids and kids of color down the lesser one. Until we can find a way not to do that, then people like me will object.”

Mr. Schwartz of Harvard acknowledged that the report wades into “tricky terrain.” But he said that tracking is “when schools make decisions about what kids are capable of and what their futures are. It’s pervasive in our schools, and it’s a huge problem.

“But I wouldn’t confuse that form of tracking,” he said, “with trying to create a system in which by the time kids hit 16, they and their families have some real choices to make.”
Early manual training and Educational Sloyd proposed that craftsmanship practiced by all in schools would level the playing field and create a sense of the dignity of all labor, but their remedy was ignored, bringing us to our current state of educational disarray. David Henry Feldman had presented a new metaphor for education, "the child as craftsman" from which we can recognize the qualities of skill and character inherent in craftsmanship, that should be made available to all students of every social class, and race, regardless of academic potential, and that were offered to all students through Educational Sloyd.

If were were smart, we would ask every child to choose a trade as a cognitive supplement to academic advancement. Every cognitive leap involves metaphor and most essential successful creative metaphors are conceptualized from engagement in physical reality.

Don't expect scholars at Harvard or elsewhere to fully understand what you can only learn from your own hands. The Harvard report, Pathways to Prosperity can be downloaded here.

In the meantime, I'm keeping my hands smart by making a chair for a "chairity" event in support of the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. It is a quickie, made from old salvaged chair parts and a slab of spalted maple. The event is called "reArt" and with a few exceptions, the works are ones that have been passed along from collectors to be auctioned by the school to other collectors to raise money for the school. Five or six local artists have been selected to donate original work for the live auction. This chair fits the theme by reusing old parts. Some of the step by step photos are at left and more can be found in earlier posts. The chair back has been painted with green milk paint.

The "Watson" competitor on Jeopardy brings to mind an earlier post on the subject of distributed intelligence, What if we're not as smart as we think we are? What if intelligence has always been offloaded to the tools we use, and not necessarily invested only in what goes on inside our heads? If that is the case, (which it is) then we would be wanting to train our children in the use of all kinds of tools, thus enhancing their cognitive capacities.

make, fix and create.

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