Foto: TP Mineduc
An entire month (February 2019) is dedicated to technical and vocational education in Arkansas (USA). That seems hard to believe, because logic would judge this as excessive. Counter-intuitively, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently proclaimed February as Career & Technical Education Month. For educators in Chile, this is hard to believe, so I have evidence: a picture, a link, and a tweet. I know that without this kind of evidence, it is absolutely unbelievable.
Governor Asa Hutchinson has proclaimed February as Career & Technical Education Month in Arkansas! ARCareerEd and Arkansas ACTE are proud to kick-off this month with CTE Day at the Capitol! #ARCTE19 #CareerTech #28daysofCTE #CTE #CTEWorks pic.twitter.com/7xoKVcNNpU
— Emily O’Kelley (@EmmaLemonadeee) February 7, 2019
What I find even more fascinating than the month-long celebration of the achievements of students in high-school vocational education, however, is the stories of the vocational students:
Emily Richey, Madison Needham, Bobbie Timmermann, Alexis Roberson, Mathew Adcock,
Ashley Turner, Coby Wilson, Lindsey Triplett, and, Sara Whitson.
There is a common thread, namely, that vocational education does not suffer from a lack of prestige. Quite the opposite is evident in their collective stories. This statement captured my full attention:
“Career and Technical Education has provided me with unbelievable opportunities that not only have broadened my education, but also equipped me with life skills necessary for my future… I feel fully prepared to enter college, attend medical school, and obtain a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in order to one day manage nursing homes and clinics all across Arkansas.”—Emily Richey, Paris High School
In Chile, this kind of ambitious aspiration (MBA) would be unheard of coming from a vocational school student. The Chilean high school vocational education system simply is not designed or intended to produce MBA graduates. The system lacks the prestige and quite frankly, the rigor, to accomplish this feat.
So, I’m curious about this “Career and Technical Education” (CTE) model. It seems like a hybrid, an innovation in which students who participate in the program have all of their options available: 1) workforce qualification, 2) university study. Let’s take a look at it:
Hmm… The Chilean system is very different, in terms of how you access educational opportunity. A student who follows a vocational education career track in Chile could only access a limited number of “special access” / continuation of studies, university entrance openings.
This is clearly not the case in the USA. We know this when the girl in the video ( a nursing student), says this about technical education: “…it’s not a limit, it’s a beginning.”
To finish on a positive note, Vocational Education in Chile is changing, right now. A number of new initiatives implemented by the previous and current government will provide these same dual opportunities for Chilean students. By dual I mean high quality preparation for work and/or high quality preparation for the highest levels of academic, university education.
Needless to say, no high school in Chile currently can make the boast that their students are prepared for work, with technical qualifications, and simultaneously prepared to successfully complete a rigorous, academically challenging university degree granting program.
As Bob Dylan put it, however, “The times they are a changing…”
“Venid gente, reunios,
dondequiera que esteís,
y admitan que las aguas a su alrededor
y acepten que pronto
hasta los huesos
si creén que aun estan
a tiempo de salvarse,
será mejor que comiencen a nadar,
o se hundirán como piedras,
porque los tiempos estan cambiando.”
Bob Dylan, 2016 Nobel Prize Winner in Literature.