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Re: [SACC-L] Sign of things to come?

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  • Andrew Petto
    And the 1930s before that. My undergraduate college, a fiercely non-technical liberal arts school in New England even went in for a forestry school in the 30s.
    Message 1 of 10 , Nov 20, 2010
      And the 1930s before that. My undergraduate college, a fiercely
      non-technical liberal arts school in New England even went in for a
      forestry school in the 30s.

      I agree that technical colleges are much better at this (I started my
      anatomy teaching career in a technical college for undertakers -- oops!
      Morticians!). Problem is that a lot of people do not know what a
      university is, really, or how the different higher ed options are
      supposed to interrelate.

      My only concerns are these:
      1. Even in the tech/community colleges (and I have taught in both)
      students need at least SOME courses that help them exercise higher-order
      cognitive activity -- planning, analysing, evaluating, and so on. I see
      lots of courses that do that in our tech college system, but I do not
      see them as highly valued (by students or the community). Maybe the
      fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves!
      2. A person who is too narrowly trained in a particular skill runs the
      risk of becoming obsolete (and unemployed) if his/her training is what a
      Korean friend of ours calls "One-way going!". This often happens, for
      example, in military settings where someone learns enough to do what the
      service needs doing. the problem is not that the person cannot learn new
      things (or even that the military will not teach them), it is that the
      learner never gets a peek at the coherent whole that ties it all
      together, so we want to be sure that our colleges (at all levels) keep
      doing this.
      3. Often the people who know the skills best and teach them --- former
      or current tradespeople --- do not see or value this bigger picture.
      Every so often one breaks out, but it is rare in my experience. Of
      course, these people are valuable, but they represent one piece of the
      picture. I see this whenever I take a short course at the tech college
      for upgraded software or some such thing. The focus is narrow and it is
      about accomplishing a task, not about a general problem-solving strategy
      within a field. I think both need to be included --- the balance is the
      trick, ain'a?

      Off the soapbox.

      Anj

      On 20-Nov-10 12:44, Lloyd Miller wrote:
      > Anj,
      >
      > This sounds a lot like a new chapter of the "career and vocational education" book of the late 1960s and 1970s that helped launch community colleges. The basic philosophy behind it that Sydney Marland (Commissioner of the now-defunct Dept of Education) promoted was that most students didn't need a liberal arts education. They needed to get skills in order to get jobs. Des Moines Area Community College's Arts and Sciences Division remained under-funded and played "second fiddle" to vocational education at the college for many years, even though liberal arts enrollments came to exceed all others.
      >
      > I don't see a repeat of this on the horizon, though, if only because most of the jobs today require the kind of education that the liberal arts has to offer. Personally, I'm a bit dismayed that universities may be getting into this game. Though long suffering from lower status in the academic world (occasionally referred to as "high schools with ashtrays"), we community colleges have maintained a niche for ourselves in providing "general" (liberal arts) education as support for "practical" programs that were preparing students for the job market. Now that community colleges have come into their own and are accepted---even prized in some cases---by the public, and our kind of education is seen as needed, we may lose our exclusive niche.
      >
      > But this is just a selfish musing, not to be taken seriously.
      >
      > Lloyd
      >
      >
      > On Nov 20, 2010, at 11:38 AM, Andrew Petto wrote:
      >
      >> There is a contingent that favors school-to-work type education; our
      >> soon-to-be-former governor reversed that and supported general, liberal
      >> arts education as something that benefited the populace more in the long
      >> run. Therefore, we should see a boost in the technical college system,
      >> since those courses are more oriented to specific careers and because
      >> their districts have independent taxing authority.
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > Find out more at our web page :http://webs.anokaramsey.edu/sacc/Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >

      --

      -----------------------------
      Andrew J Petto, PhD
      Senior Lecturer
      Department of Biological Sciences
      University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee
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      https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ajpetto/www/index.htm

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