Sunday, May 11, 2008

Career Tracking 13-year-olds by Anthony McCarthy

I’m reading this article about career tracking young teenagers in the public schools for the third time this morning and can’t tell how I feel about it. My initial feeling is uneasy, it sounds too much like what they did in Britain to reinforce class rankings at the behest of social science charlatanism (See The Mismeasure of Man by S. J. Gould) . It also has more than a few points in common with the Booker T. Washington - W.E.B Du Bois dispute.

The push for a greater link between school and work is most apparent in low-income communities, where, advocates say, career themes engage kids who might otherwise drop out or lose interest in school.

That’s what you'd have suspected, a way to turn low-income children into a work force for the service and corporate oligarchs. The article begins with one 13-year-old giving up her acting when she was convinced to enter on a career path leading to her becoming a physician's assistant. Being a physician’s assistant is an entirely laudable goal and an admirable profession, certainly better than many better paid ones which are a blight on humanity. But why did she have to give up acting so early?

Other students in the article have other stories, some very positive, some I wonder about. And if it’s such a wonderful thing for lower income children, wouldn’t those in the upper class be pushing their way into it? I’m trying hard to remember a boon to anyone which wasn’t hogged by the upper class.

It will take a long time for me to figure out if I think it’s a good idea or not. Probably, like just about every practice in education it will be for some and not for others. I wonder why they couldn’t come up with a way to provide more of a liberal education within a vocational program. Having a child who can have a decent income is a laudable goal but a broad enough education for them to be a fulfilled person throughout their lives and fully participating members in a democratic society are as important. I'd like people to get back to realizing that they work to have a life of their own, that it isn't the other way around.

Get back to you on this.