November 21, 2005

Should university teachers be preparing students for the job market?

A while back, Brian posted a comment about the role of teachers in regard to preparing students for employment:
I believe that education needs to subscribe to something significantly higher than merely preparing students for the world of work.

As a teacher, I remember reading through checklists of skills that were purported to be designed to prepare students for the workfroce of tomorrow. Nothing useful came from these checklists, and frankly the lists represented an exercise in creative fiction. At the same time, the marketing propaganda around these "preparing for the workforce" initiatives was quite significant.

I remember hearing Neil Postman say that there are hardly any skills in the world of work that would require an education to prepare for. Perhaps he is right.

Not sure what to make of that last paragraph. But I've been thinking about this: what if the idea that education (meaning schooling) was not really a preparation for work? I can think of many, many times when I was at school when I questioned the practical value of what I was being asked to do. Although the most fun things (for me; not everyone enjoyed them) were things that were definitely of no practical value, but brought great richness to my experience of life.

What do you think of this, then? - "We corruptly make jobs [I think what is meant here is the possibility of employment] depend on school time and course work when we are absolutely certain they have no demonstrable connection with such things."

I am reminded me of the student I blogged recently, who is totally bored out of his mind at school, yet hangs in there, waiting to graduate because he needs the credits and the "degree". If anyone is a student just marking time until he can graduate, this one is. It's like being in jail: "put in your 4 years, and you get a qualification. Without this qualification, employment will be hard or next to impossible, at least for the kinds of work that you have been trained to want to do, so that you can buy the kind of lifestyle you've been programmed to want."

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