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Presentation on theme: "THE ACADEMIC–VOCATIONAL DIVIDE AND THE ‘GIFTED & TALENTED’ DEBATE."— Presentation transcript:


2 Dr Annie Haight Oxford Brookes University 16 November 2012

3 ‘The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.’ Anselem Brillat-Savarin, 1825

4 On meeting the French writer Colette, Truman Capote observed that her meaty hands ‘are a reminder that writing is a manual occupation’ Truman Capote, ‘The White Rose’ c1948

5 IN THIS SESSION  definition of terms  context and background to ‘gifted & talented’ agenda  relationship of gifted & talented research to vocational education  factors narrowing the academic-vocational divide  factors maintaining the academic-vocational divide  implications and recommendations

6 ACADEMIC-VOCATIONAL DIVIDE The ideas, attitudes and values underlying the view that conceptual, abstract thought, learning and work are qualitatively different and superior to practical, applied thought, learning and work

7 ‘GIFTED’ AND ‘TALENTED’ AS DEFINED BY NEW LABOUR 1997 TO 2010  Learners in the top 5 to 10% of their school or college populations in terms of potential or performance  ‘Gifted’ refers to academic subjects  ‘Talent’ refers to arts, sport and, by 2009, to interpersonal or vocational skills

8 'VOCATIONAL TALENT' A WORKING DEFINITION an individual's capacity or potential to produce achievements of notable excellence in vocational domains

9 THREE KEY QUESTIONS Are notions from ‘gifted and talented’ education relevant and useful to vocational education? What implications might they have for the academic-vocational divide? What wider factors narrow or maintain the academic-vocational divide?

10 FACTORS NARROWING THE ACADEMIC-VOCATIONAL DIVIDE 1  educational theories emphasising:  ‘learning by doing’, eg Pestalozzi, Rousseau, Dewey  character development and citizenship  scholarship on high potential and performance emphasising:  world-of-work skills and abilities, eg Taylor, Sternberg  dispositional aspects such as motivation and practice, eg Renzulli, Dweck, Ericcson et al  real-world products and contexts, eg Renzulli, Sternberg  thinkers emphasising the continuity of:  hand-based and brain-based learning, eg researchers in ‘embodied cognition’, Sennett, Crawford  craft and professional occupations, eg Ryle, Winch, Erault, MacIntyre

11 FACTORS NARROWING THE ACADEMIC-VOCATIONAL DIVIDE 2  thinkers and organisations advocating for practical and applied learning, eg Edge, the Talent Foundation, Education and Employers Taskforce  subjects/disciplines integrating theory and practice, eg design and technology, engineering, media  recent integrative educational approaches, eg 14-19 Diplomas  new structures promoting high-quality vocational and applied education, eg University Technical Colleges, the Technical Baccalaureate

12 FACTORS MAINTAINING THE ACADEMIC-VOCATIONAL DIVIDE 1  philosophical legacy of mind-body dualism (Plato, Descartes)  educational theories privileging abstract over concrete thinking (e g Piaget)  Taylorism, ie assembly-line efficiencies of production  the British class system: assumptions and manifestations

13 FACTORS MAINTAINING THE ACADEMIC-VOCATIONAL DIVIDE 2  pay and status differentials between craft and professional occupations  social mobility defined as university education and professional employment  intragenerational social mobility increased for graduates and decreased for non-graduates  intergenerational social mobility similarly affected  superior health and civic engagement outcomes for graduates

14 ARGUMENTS FOR VOCATIONAL PATHWAYS FOR TALENTED LEARNERS equity and distributive justice respect for agency of vocational learners and their families challenge to association of vocational education with lower SES and lower ability better educational experiences and opportunities parity of esteem social and economic gains healthier civil society eudaemonia / ‘soulcraft’

15 ARGUMENTS AGAINST VOCATIONAL PATHWAYS FOR TALENTED LEARNERS  real or perceived risk of trapping vocational learners in:  low/er-paid jobs  lower status occupations  lower prospects for social mobility optimal health outcomes

16 HOW MIGHT IDEAS FROM ‘GIFTED & TALENTED’ EDUCATION INFORM THIS DISCUSSION? 1 Conceptually  to adopt  awareness of high potential in vocational fields  similarities between academic and vocational talents  importance of motivation, applied learning and practice  ‘emergentist’ models  to avoid  vocabulary of ‘giftedness’ and associated stereotypes  ‘reductivist’ models emphasising small, exceptional minorities  elitism and divisiveness

17 HOW MIGHT IDEAS FROM ‘GIFTED & TALENTED’ EDUCATION INFORM THIS DISCUSSION? 2  Contextually  to adopt  strengthen and extend structural access between vocational and academic sectors  professional conversations about domain-specific standards of excellence, threshold concepts, talent-spotting and development  to avoid  simplistic identification methods  quotas and cut-off points for special provision  low-trust reporting requirements

18 HOW MIGHT IDEAS FROM ‘GIFTED & TALENTED’ EDUCATION INFORM THIS DISCUSSION? 3  Pedagogically  to adopt  necessary conceptual content at a rigorous level  ‘expert performance’ model, access to practitioners and real equipment  teaching and assessment true to the domain’s own standards of excellence  ‘teaching for challenge’ balanced with consolidation and practice  ‘hands-on’, problem-based and collaborative learning  strategies to inculcate persistence and resilience  to avoid  ‘over-academicising’ assessment  simplistic assumptions about linear progression and  the attitude that ‘earlier / faster is always better’

19 AN OBSERVATION AND A PREDICTION Educational advocacy and activism is necessary but not sufficient. The academic-vocational divide will persist, and talented learners will be directed into academic pathways, until income and mobility differentials narrow.




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