Vocation comes from the Latin ‘voco–to call’. This is the same concept as a priest or religious calling or vocation. Vocational training or education gets a pretty bad rap these days however. After having just prepared an 18 page thesis on vocational education in schools I am a bit dazed and confused. I have been reading volumes of scholarly literature (peer-reviewed and refereed don’t ya know!). I have come to one very cogent realization: what we teach in schools and expect of students has very little pragmatic translation into real life.
I am sure that there are educators who are really trying to give students some real life application. I don’t fault teachers; I am in solidarity. But I do fault mandatory curriculum which gives students no backing in life lessons. So I have also come up with some practical ideas to infuse career preparation into the curriculum particularly in reading. The Michigan Model of Reading defines reading as Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. These activities address all four of these areas.
Technical Education classes:
Instruct and practice word processing; practice writing emails, online journals (Facebook, LiveJournal, Myspace), blogging, and writing forums like
AssociatedContent or student writing forums.
Prepare spreadsheets for budgeting, checkbooks, inventories, research
Design Powerpoint presentations on student career choices, job shadowing, career information, community focus, employers, etc. Utilize the layout, outline
and bullet techniques
Develop online resume and job hunt websites (MiWorks, Career matrix)
Perform searches for colleges, trade schools, and career opportunities skills:
English/ Language/ Reading classes
Oral Presentation and practice:
Role-play in class to simulate college and job interviews, job and work scenarios, job skills, employee/employer interaction
Telephone calls to set up class presentations, inviting speakers, make appointments, scheduling activities,
Developing student surveys both written and oral canvassing
Public speaking: introducing speakers,
Conduct interviews before an audience (use a talk show format like Jerry Springer, The Tonight Show, etc. with professionals, trade persons or other students).
Simulate game shows with career information: Jeopardy, Hollywood Squares, etc.
Quiz show format
Literature to use with a socio-economic or career choice focus:
Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
In Dubious Battle (Steinbeck)
Wise Blood (Flannery O’Connor)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
Sense and Sensibility
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
Little Men (Louisa May Alcott)
The Grapes of Wrath
Captains Courageous (Rudyard Kipling)
A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
A Christmas Carol
Doctor Zhivago (Boris Pasternak)
Fiddler on the Roof
The Chosen (Chaim Potok)
The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx)
Das Capital (Frederich Engels)
The Count of Monte Christo (Alexandre Dumas)
1984 (George Orwell)
Animal Farm ( Orwell)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare)
Two Gentlemen of Verona
most any short stories by O. Henry or Guy De Maupassant
This should bolster your language curriculum with some good career and vocational skill lessons.