Values implicit in vocational education and training: The challenge for wider issues of personal and social engagement

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Bagnall, Richard
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Terence Lovat, Ron Toomey & Neville Clement

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This chapter examines values learning through vocational education and training. Changes in the values emphasized in vocational education and training practice and research are seen as expressions of broader cultural value shifts. In recent years, the most dramatic changes in the values emphasized in vocational education and training may be understood as expressions of the heightened valuing of performance, ownership, and contingency. The valuing of performance is expressed, for example, in the growth of outcomes-based (especially competence-based) approaches to education, in educational credentialism (including educational creep), and in the vocationalization of general education. The valuing of ownership is expressed particularly in the privatization of education and learning outcomes and the valuing of contingency is expressed most notably in the importance of flexibility, responsiveness to changed circumstances, and the management of risk. All of this is in increased attention to the context of learning and learning assessment, and in a focus on more immediate or proximate learning imperatives. Using a matrix analysis, the chapter traces these changes using two common qualities or dimensions of any value: its nature (the relative extent to which it is prudential, ethical, or aesthetic in nature) and its object domain (for the purposes of this analysis, the extent to which it is focused on human engagements, variously, of an individual, social, economic, political, or environmental nature). The analysis identifies a traditional focus in vocational education and training practice and research on prudential values focused on individual and economic domains of human engagement. It suggests that there is increasing attention being paid in research and practice to ethical and, to a lesser extent, aesthetic values focused more widely across the individual, economic, and environmental domains. Most neglected are values in the political domain. The values to which attention is paid tend to be both contextualized and immediate or proximate in their focus, although demands for contingent flexibility and responsiveness are encouraging greater attention to values more concerned with wider issues of personal and social engagement.

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International Research Handbook on Values Education and Student Wellbeing

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