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Vocational education: Standing and clarification of key objects Stephen Billett, Griffith University.

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1 Vocational education: Standing and clarification of key objects Stephen Billett, Griffith University

2 Vocational education is an important and worthwhile project for: developing the capacities required for meeting societal needs and wants (e.g. social and economic goals), and assisting individuals identify with, become competent in and sustain occupational competence across lengthening working lives. So, national, institutional and personal investments for this project deserve effective practices and policies, supported by clear conceptions. Yet, it suffers from low status, negative societal sentiments, often unhelpful regulation and inadequate educational purposes and practices. Proposes - it should be focussed less on institutional imperatives, and more on those who learn and local needs and provisions supporting learning.

3 Case It has always been ‘privileged others’ who have shaped the standing and character of occupations and how they are prepared which has: i)persistently positioned vocational education and many of the occupations it serves as being of low standing, and ii)distorted conceptions of its key objects (i.e. occupations and vocations). Need to redress this situation and secure a better balance amongst factors shaping vocational education’s purposes and practices. Central here is accounting for both the ‘institutional facts ‘that comprise occupations and the ‘personal facts’ that constitute vocations

4 Progression Standing of occupations and vocational education Ordering of work and education – aristocrats Enduring legacies Calling to particular occupations – theocrats Rise of professions – secular accounts Origins of vocational education systems and top-down approaches – bureaucrats Accounting for those who learning Occupations as societal facts Vocations as personal facts Ways of progressing …..

5 Vocational education’s standing rooted in dominant societal sentiments Across human history, ‘privileged others’ have decided the societal worth of occupations and their preparation (Billett 2011):- Aristocrats – Theocrats Bureaucrats (and economists!) Commentators (academics and theorists) These societal sentiments advanced in the absence of the voices of those who practice, learn and assist others learn these occupations Yet, over this time and today, the vast majority of occupational requirements and their development are highly localised A series of profound impacts on vocational education: i) its purposes, standing and processes ii) confusion about and unhelpful distinctions amongst its objects (i.e. occupations and vocations)

6 Aristocrats: Hellenic Greece Plato distinguished amongst: Artisans - engaged in activities such as building, carpentry, pottery, weaving; - leading to tangible product or services; Artists - musicians, painters, poetry who produce something concrete, beautiful and useful; and Professions – medical, legal, professor, theological, military He held that “artisans and artists’ work belonged to that side of life which the average free born Greek citizen regarded as “banausic” and unworthy of his serious attention …" (Lodge 1947) The citizens must not lead the life of mechanics or tradesmen, which is ignoble and far from conducive of virtue. (Aristotle, 1964 p. 60, cited in Elias 1995) Further, Plato viewed artisans as being incapable of generating new ideas and "had to wait for God to invent a solution“ to their problems (Farrington 1966:105). … human capacities had little to do with the effectiveness of their enactment – “... nature gives the increase. Human reason does little compared with nature.” (Lodge 1947:16)

7 … the lowest form of education to be for those who worked with their hands and not with their minds” – this was to be referred to as technical from the Greek techne – to make (Elias 1995) For Plato, “the nurse and ‘tutor’ were domestic servants, who were of no particular use in other respects (Lodge 1947 p.35). Aristotle's categories of knowing (or arriving at the truth) comprise: i) pure science (i.e. episteme); ii) art or applied science (i.e. techne); iii) prudence or practical wisdom (i.e. phronesis); iv) intelligence or intuition (i.e. nous); and v) wisdom (i.e. sophia), Yet, techne alone is most closely associated with and characterises occupations served by western vocational education systems.

8 Enduring legacies 1. Low standing and limited requirements of many occupations simple, easy to learn (short-term training, low level certification), justifies reducing duration of trade training measurable outcomes (e.g. competency-based assessment) hierarchical qualification frameworks (e.g. ETF, AQF, DQF) 2. Limited capacities of many workers beliefs about these workers, their work and learning (e.g. ETF, DQF, AQF, spokespersons) – remember NAFEs!!!! assessable as Pass/Fail – Competent/Not Competent vocational educators mere implementers of what is required to be learnt as decided by others (e.g. centralised curriculum) Also reflected in societal esteem of occupations

9 Occupational Scales (Hope-Goldthorpe Scale 1974) – social desirability ClassOccupations Class IHigh-grade professionals, managers, administrators and large proprietors Class IILower grade professionals and managers, and higher grade technicians Class IIIRoutine non-manual workers Class IVSmall proprietors and the self-employed Class VLower-grade technicians and supervisors of manual workers Class VISkilled manual workers Class VIISemi-skilled and unskilled manual workers Mental-manual divideReference to techne in lower classes

10 Australian Qualification Framework – Eight levels of competence Non-routine work tasks a part of most forms of work (Billett 1994) Massiveness and extent of knowledge, not just given in the occupation: situational factors Demands and complexity of work not given (Darrah 1996)

11 Theocrats: Calling These summons were invitations by God for individuals to demonstrate their talents. Paul, suggested that few individuals would be summoned in this way, yet others should "earnestly desire the higher gifts" (Rehm 1990: 115). Yet, "some economic activities were distinctively more ‘perilous to the soul’ than others and the more commercial the motive the more dangerous activity became." (Rehm 1990: 130) The word vocation Latin root is vocare - “to call” – a summons, a bidding, an invitation to a particular way of life. So, it is privileges others that issue the call to, make judgements about occupations and rank them accordingly

12 Reformation brought acceptance of making profit and accumulating capital Within Puritanism - moral self-sufficiency was easily equated to legitimating accumulation of wealth when arising from individuals’ efforts. (Quicke 1999) Accordingly, vocations denote individuals’ conception of their lives as a social mission - a strong and persistent disposition to be of service to others. (Hansen 1994) Daily work as divine vocations became central to the so called ‘protestant (or Puritan) work ethic’. Yet, critiqued as instances of workers being duped into false consciousness (Marx) So, first theology and then philosophy expresses societal sentiments Calvinism - work was to reshape the world in the fashion of divine kingdom and through one's dedicated labours to prove oneself. (Dawson 2005).

13 Secular accounts During the 18th and 19th centuries, the concept of vocation had an increasingly secular connotation. Yet, distinctions amongst occupations meant the worth of work was shaped by societal sentiments. Humans were essentially and primarily workers and their work was the ultimate human expression through which fulfilment could be achieved (Dawson 2005) For example, distinctions between professions and other occupations reinforce relative standing of occupations, access to them and educational provisions supporting them Yet, there are few distinctions between professional work and other kinds, except perhaps the massiveness of the required knowledge (Winch 2004) What about the guilds …..!!!!

14 Class and work: societal sentiments Social class and gender segmentation perpetuate the standing of occupations and arrangements for their preparation, in analogous ways Note: societal acceptance and attraction of ‘craft’ occurred in the mid-19th century after the economic role of artisans had been displaced (Adamson 2007). Arts and crafts movement was idealistic middle class concept (Mischler 2004) Extends to academic commentators – false consciousness, Bauman’s concept of (un)worthwhile work etc All of these accounts emphasise the worth of work and self as a worker as being shaped by influential others.

15 Formation of vocational education systems often associated with: 1. Need for skilled workers destruction/lack of family/workplace-based skill development 2. Developing employable capacities of young people avoiding unemployment avoiding societal disengagement 3. Engaging young people/workers with nation state centralising control and governance (‘estate’ to ‘state’) Led to: i) vocational education addressing state interests, ordered through bureaucratic and centralised means; and ii) an emphasis on entry-level training Bureaucrats: Shaping vocational education provisions

16 Students bring particular and diverse bases by which they engage in vocational education provisions: these need to be understood, accounted for and responded to appropriately A good job, which is not in a factory and pays well so I can buy a house. Partner wants to retire from train driving in 5 years time and drive trucks. She wants to be the bookkeeper for this business. Has been in catering for the last 10 years but was made redundant last year. She enjoyed some short computer courses and decided to work her way up the ladder. Daughter is now in high school and will need to know how to use computer. It is important that she can show her because daughter has a learning disability. Completed a course last year, Cert. in General Ed. for adults, and decided she wanted to do another course. She is new to the region and hopes to meet people and get some work in office admin, even as a volunteer. She has not been in the workforce for 20 years and wants to bring herself up to current standards and get over her fear of computers. (Billett & Hayes 2000) Students’ needs and subjectivities as learners often not considered These needs have to be understood and responded to locally

17 Redressing the distortion arising through these societal sentiments Proposes that key conceptions of occupations and vocations need to be more clearly defined Occupations – arise from history, culture and circumstance – they are societal facts Vocations – arise as personal practices and sentiments from experiences and to which individuals need to assent – they are personal facts and practices

18 Occupations – Societal facts Occupations are culturally, historically- derived and situationally shaped practices There are manifested in and transformed by the circumstances of their enactment and the conceptions, capacities and subjectivities of persons enacting them. They comprise practice through which individuals secure vocational purposes and learn that practice, yet in doing so remake (and transform) that practice.

19 Occupation is a concrete term for continuity. It includes the development of artistic capacity of any kind, of special scientific ability, of effective citizenship, as well as professional and business occupations, to say nothing of mechanical labor or engagement in gainful pursuits. (Dewey 1916:307) Importantly, these domains exist at two levels: i) canonical occupational knowledge - often manifested as occupational standards ii) situational requirements for performance in particular work settings – “what we do here is...”

20 Vocations as personal practices “The dominant vocation of all human beings at all times is living- intellectual and moral growth.” (Dewey 1916: 310)

21 A vocation means nothing but such direction in life activities as render them perceptibly significant to a person, because of the consequences they accomplish, and are also useful to his [sic] associates. … (Dewey 1916:307) Opposite of vocations is not leisure – but idleness and parasitic dependence upon others We must avoid not only limitation of conception of vocational to the occupations where immediately tangible commodities are produced, but also the notion that vocations are distributed in an exclusive way, one and only one to each person. (Dewey 1916: 307)

22 Therefore, a salient distinction between occupations and vocations is what they mean to individuals … being a teacher, a minister, a doctor, or a parent would not be vocational if the individual kept the practice at arm’s length, divorced from his or her sense of identity, treating it in effect as one among many indistinguishable occupations. In such a case, the person would be merely an occupant of a role. This is not to say the person would conceive the activity as meaningless. He or she might regard it as strictly a job, as a necessity one has to accept, perhaps in order to secure the time or resources to do something else. Thus, in addition to being of social value, an activity must yield a sense of personal fulfilment in its own right in order to be a vocation.” (Hansen 1994: 263-64) School students paid part-time work - aged care workers, student nurses Has to be assented to …………

23 Some premises about how to proceed Occupational requirements are not uniform, so national prescriptions alone are insufficient Need to accommodate local decisions about occupational requirements, students’ readiness, available resources and experiences Those who teach and support learners often best placed to make decisions about what should be emphasised Individuals (e.g. students, workers) decide how they engage with and learn from what is provided them – taking up the invitation Three forms of curriculum i)Intended curriculum (e.g. national curriculum) ii)Enacted curriculum (e.g. workplace, training room, vocational college) iii)Experienced curriculum (e.g. learners’ interests, subjectivities) Too much emphasis on the first and too little on the second two Most of these matters that need to be understood and addressed at the local level

24 How might we progress? Broader range of discretion by teachers, people in workplace, students to met local circumstances Greater consideration of organisation and enactment of learning experiences Engaging with the voices of those who learn Building of partnerships within VET and across communities Developing teachers, those in workplaces and students’ capacities to learn occupational knowledge Building the Berufkonzept


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