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Vocational Education

The term education is derived from the Latin word e-ducere which means to “lead out” (Brumbaugh & Lawrence, 1963). With this meaning in mind, the process of education seems simplistic. However, many different theories exist on which way is the best way to instill education in children, as well as adults. Most educational philosophers believe that education is a lifelong process. The educational process begins once a child is born, but the formal educational process in the United States begins when a child enters Kindergarten, usually at the age of five. Traditional Education

Traditional education philosophies rely on a teacher-centered method of instruction. Traditional methods have long been supported by education philosophers and researchers from Aristotle to Jeanne Chall and E. D. Hirsch. Jeanne Chall is a reading specialist at Harvard University School of Education. Chall states that “teacher-centered learning helps all students achieve much better than student-centered methods, and in fact the latter can even cause harm” (Chall, 2000). Traditional education is based on two distinct philosophies: educational essentialism and educational perennialism.

Educational essentialism is a theory that holds that traditional and basic subjects should be taught in a progressive (Goldberg, 1997). Educational perennialism is a manner concentrating on the less complex skills and progressing to the more advanced skills. E. D. Hirsh, a popular educational essentialist favors whole-class instruction most of the time and sees nothing wrong with drill and practice theory that states that the skills that are of everlasting importance is what education should focus on.

Both educational essentialism and educational perennialism are teacher centered theories. However, educational perennialism focuses on personal development as opposed to essential skills. In addition to being teacher-centered, traditional education philosophies group children by age and ability in a classroom with the majority of the coursework being performed at a desk through direct instruction, lectures, listening, and observation. The coursework is based on textbooks and the subjects taught are independent of each other, for example math and reading.

In the traditional education model, students choose a track of courses that is best suited to their abilities and career objectives. The traditional teacher-centered methods also require students to address the teacher formally as a respected role model. Achievement and successful completion of each subject in the traditional education model is measured by a series of grades, denoted by the letters A-F, A being the highest grade possible and F being the lowest grade possible. Progressive Education

In contrast to traditional education philosophies, student-centered theories have emerged. These student-centered theories are centered on the belief that humans learn best when taught through real-life activities with other people. This belief is commonly referred to as educational progressivism, and was developed by Francis Parker and John Dewey. Unlike traditional education, progressive education groups children by interest or ability and utilizes multi-aged classrooms. The progressive curriculum focuses on hands-on activities and student-led discoveries.

The coursework is based on projects rather than textbooks, and the subjects taught are integrated with each other, for example reading a story about building a car and using mathematical concepts to calculate the cost of the project. The underlying curriculum is unified regardless of interest or career ambition. However, the progressive education model offers diverse classes that allow the students to customize their educational experience. This student-centered model of education also allows students to address their teachers informally, using first names rather than last names.

Formalized grading is not a part of the progressive education model. Students are required to demonstrate mastery of certain subjects by being tested due to government regulations, but aside from those requirements personalized assessments of a student’s overall performance is given by the teacher rather than formal letter grades. Vocational Education Vocational education is defined as training designed to advance individuals’ general proficiency, especially in relation to their present or future occupations (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2006).

Vocational education in the United States is primarily offered through Community Colleges, although some states have vocational high schools that offer vocational courses in addition to the traditional subjects offered by all high schools throughout the country. Federally funded vocational education activities are regulated by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act which was authorized in 1984 and reauthorized in 1998. In July 2006, the 1998 law was reauthorized under the name the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006.

The new law changed the term vocational education from the original law to career and technical education, obligated a separate federal fund to maintain the Tech Prep program, and maintained each state’s administrative funding at 5% of its allocation. The 2006 revision, nicknamed the Perkins Act, also provides $1. 3 billion in federal funding for career and technical education programs in all 50 states through the year 2012 (The United States Department of Education, 2006). All educational activities that are funded by the Perkins Act are supervised by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, US Department of Education.

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