At Minuteman High School you can learn to be a plumber, an electrician or a cosmetologist. You can also learn environmental science, engineering and computer programming. You can play football, act in the drama club or compete on the math team. You can take Advanced Placement classes, too.
Minuteman is a vocational high school. It’s located in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is one of more than two dozen regional vocational high schools in the state.Teachers and staff at Minuteman proudly proclaim they work at a “vocational” school. That term has fallen out of favor with many advocates of what is now more commonly referred to as “career and technical” education. “Vocational” is seen as too narrow a term, too focused on preparing students for work rather than higher education.
The mantra of the career and technical education movement is that career education in high school is as much a route to college as a traditional academic path.
But whether kids go to college or not, there’s no shame in saying the purpose of education is to get a job, says Michelle Roche, an administrator at Minuteman. The job of educators is to “get people working,” says Roche. “And that’s what we’re doing. We prepare the next generation of workers.”
The enduring debate about the purpose of schoolThe debate about the purpose of education in America is as old as the nation itself.Thomas Jefferson argued for a liberal arts approach in America’s schools. “For classical learning I have ever been a zealous advocate,” Jefferson wrote. (Photo: Henry R. Robinson, lithographer; Library of Congress)
Thomas Jefferson argued for a liberal arts approach in America’s schools. “For classical learning I have ever been a zealous advocate,” Jefferson wrote. (Photo: Henry R. Robinson, lithographer; Library of Congress)
Benjamin Franklin argued in favor of a work-focused approach, supporting the idea of apprenticeships and practical instruction. He wanted people to learn skills and trades to help build the new nation.Thomas Jefferson argued in favor of liberal arts education. He wanted students to learn Greek and Latin, history and science. “For classical learning I have ever been a zealous advocate,” Jefferson wrote.