The standing of vocational education: Sources of its societal esteem and implications for its enactment
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The standing of vocational education is salient for how it is perceived by those who sponsor, participate in and work within it and how its provisions are supported and administered. Yet, this standing continues to be intractably low, compared with other education sectors, more so in some countries than others. The consequences for this low standing can be profound. Serially, moreover, it has been the voices and sentiments of powerful others (e.g. aristocrats, theocrats, bureaucrats and academics) that have long been privileged in discourses about the standing of occupations and their preparation. In perhaps most instances, this privileging has and continues to come at a cost to the standing, processes of and goals for this important educational sector. Indeed, the legacies of earlier sentiments about and conceptions of different kinds of occupations and their preparation are now deeply embedded in societal discourses and variously sustain and constrain the standing of vocational education. At its strongest, concepts such the Berufsconcept in the German speaking world does much to sustain and elevate vocational education. Elsewhere, this lowly standing generates constraints that comprise efforts to control and micro-manage those who teach and learn. Adopting a historical approach, this paper offers a brief and partial account of how, across time, sentiments of powerful others have shaped the standing of vocational education and its proposes and practices, often for purposes of power and control. Instead, it is proposed that for vocational education to realise it purposes necessarily requires it to be informed by and directed more by the interests of those learning about, teach and practice ]'-these occupations. In addition, the need for societally-based (i.e. governmental) imperatives to ameliorate the longstanding consequences of these sentiments for vocational education are proposed.
Journal of Vocational Education and Training
© 2014 Taylor & Francis (Routledge). This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the Journal of Vocational Education and Training on 16 Dec 2013, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13636820.2013.867525
Technical, Further and Workplace Education