Education is my lifetime passion. “Educare” means raising someone or take his hand and elevate him from the state of ignorance to knowledge. I am the opponent of the theory of apprenticeship as of the information age, they have distorted pedagogy[i] while accompanying children.[ii] – Dr. Antoine Courban – 2015[iii]
The model of actual schooling expects teachers to perform like movie stars, in other words to bring the wow effect, as in a more academic expression: ensure these kids become job ready candidates once they finish school! In a world where once educators have finished their job, learners are in principle prepared for a reality that sustains the vocational education model and so much less their many years spent discovering and collecting and appreciate the limitless possibilities of knowledge!
My statement may seem odd, I know and I am fully aware of that. The art of education is – and I am a true believer of Dr. Courban’s definition – by itself a humanistic process, walking with the students towards knowledge until it is reached when learners (kids) are fit to walk into their adult life.
As much as odd my statement may seem, I frankly recognize that in many situations it is sadly the case. It must be very disappointing for graduates (and their teachers I assume) to find out how different are the realities of the job market. It must be very disappointing not to say upsetting to be told they may work in different fields than what they studied for all these years.
If the present model is in anguish from within, it does not mean it is completely wrong, at the same time the vocational education model is also facing many challenges and criticism, that model cannot be completely wrong as well.
The two models would gain a lot, for the benefit of the learners to connect, to communicate and put together the best they could bring to the wellbeing of learners. I guess this is where thing go wrong: no link between the two!
Students cannot become good employees or skilled workers, while spending 15, 20 years or more studying in domains that keeps them in ivory towers far from the real world, but at the same time will never benefit of intense vocational training, one will see the entire forest and ignore the tree as the other will have the opposite situation. Learners need both realities.
If academic education is the food for the mind, vocational education is supposed to adapt such knowledge into the real world with the support of soft skills[iv] (See the endnote section). In order to avoid misunderstandings, let’s define soft skills as the various series of behaviours that help people work and socialize together. It is important not to confuse it with what hard skills that address the technical abilities someone learns and masters to perform specific tasks.
Both models are required to provide to graduates what they need to join the workforce. Vocational education will never replace academic and neither academic will ignore vocational. Both are meant to exist together and closer than ones may imagine.
Both models need to clearly understand that students are not recording machines who have to memorize data, more data, and nothing but data. If students cannot make any use of this data then education has a major problem, far more serious than what is ongoing nowadays.
For many years, I criticized the academic top-bottom model, for many years I defended and worked for a radically opposite model (bottom-top) , and I confess I was wrong!
I was wrong simply because I excluded one for the benefit of the other, in my mind as in many other people, if a model dos not respond to the expectations then we change it for another. Well if there is anything unique to education, it is a matter of people, human, minds, emotions and unpredictable behaviours and reactions. Besides if a model worked for so many years, there must be something (at least parts of it) good and profitable about it.
We are part of an entire complex environment in which the most intangible parameter is to know how people act and behave! No science, no course and no model could ever predict that!
Education as in capital “E”, is above all, knowledge (and know how) that interacts with human, with people! That could be the first amendment we ought to consider and then seek of where both worlds connect for the common good of people (learners). Knowledge is in no way data, just data, and learners are no either demographic or statistic data!
Educators and vocational specialists need to meet, need to share their art! Their partners, the learners, at the core of their thinking.
Turn your data into a story, into a game, into art! (Mark Sample), I discovered this quote a few years ago during a research I was conducting about modern pedagogy vs. the “old school pedagogy”. The words snapped into my mind, I found finally a simple but how real description of what I was hoping to offer in education program development. A definition of what a real pedagogue must be: an artist about linking the best of people and the wonders of endless knowledge. Oh! It is no secret to say there is no such thing “old school pedagogy” it never ages as it walks hand in hand with learners of all times!
We are desperately short on true pedagogues[v] who will inspire educational models to foresee the real challenges and more importantly the perpetuation of the real spirit of pedagogy in harmony with the 21st century realities.
The clock is ticking. Every year we lose in sterile discussions (eventually in no discussion at all) will provide another wave of people who will hold a grad in “drop out from school!”.
Until our next chat,
Michel – October 8, 2015
[i] Pedagogy is the discipline that deals with the theory and practice of education; it thus concerns the study and practice of how best to teach The word comes from the Greek παιδαγωγία (paidagōgia), from παιδαγωγός (paidagōgos), in which παῖς (país, genitive παιδός, paidos) means “child” and ἄγω (ágō) means “lead”; thus literally “to lead the child”.
[ii] Original translation (French): L’enseignement est la passion de ma vie. “Educare” signifie “élever” ou prendre quelqu’un par la main pour l’élever du niveau de l’ignorance vers celui du savoir. Je suis un des ennemis de la théorie de l’apprentissage et de celle de l’information qui ont dénaturé toute pédagogie dans l’accompagnement des enfants
[iii] This citation is a free translation from the French original citation from the author, an eminent Medical Doctor, Teacher, Educator and Humanist!
[iv] [iv] Soft skills is a all term referring to various behaviors that help people work and socialize well with others. In short, they are the good manners and personality traits needed to get along with others and build positive relationships. Unlike hard skills, which include a person’s technical skill set and ability to perform certain functional tasks, soft skills are broadly applicable across job titles and industries
[v] The word pedagogue was originally used in reference to the slave who escorted Roman children to school. On the way back children used to discuss with them about what they learned and the discoveries they made The pedagogue’s job is usually distinguished from a teacher’s by primarily focusing on teaching children life-preparing knowledge such as social skills and cultural norms. There is also a very big focus on care and well-being of the child. Many pedagogical institutions also practice social inclusion. The pedagogue’s work also consists of supporting the child in their mental and social development