September 30, 2015

In the past couple of weeks, I came across two very interesting articles. Published opinions I hope you’ll have the time to read.

One was focused on the delivery of education and the other emphasized the necessity for more and better skills training.

Yet, in important ways, they were related.

The first was by Annie Murphy (“Are College Lectures Unfair?”) and appeared in the Sunday Review section of the NEW YORK TIMES.

The following is a brief excerpt that I believe succinctly addresses an issue that we’re examined many times:

“ . . . Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that the lecture is not generic or neutral, but a specific cultural form that favors some people while discriminating against others, including women, minorities and low-income and first-generation college students. This is not a matter of instructor bias; it is the lecture format itself — when used on its own without other instructional supports — that offers unfair advantages to an already privileged population.

The partiality of the lecture format has been made visible by studies that compare it with a different style of instruction, called active learning. This approach provides increased structure, feedback and interaction, prompting students to become participants in constructing their own knowledge rather than passive recipients.

Research comparing the two methods has consistently found that students over all perform better in active-learning courses than in traditional lecture courses. However, women, minorities, and low-income and first-generation students benefit more, on average, than white males from more affluent, educated families. . . . “

Obviously, Murphy is writing about college lectures — but, the same argument can be made about the lectures that are foisted upon our American workforce in far too many industrial skills training classrooms.

The second article, “Vocational Training Makes for Better Paid, Better Prepared Workers” by James P. Hoffa and appeared in the HUFFINGTON POST.

Again, it’s another contention we’ve discussed in previous postings but, in my opinion, it can’t be emphasized too often. Here’s an excerpt:

“ . . . America needs a 21st century workforce to better compete in the global economy. . . .

. . . Education is essential for preparing people for the working world. . . .

. . . A college degree, however, is not the answer for all people. There is a need to boost vocational training for the U.S. population at large. A report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that by 2018, a third of all jobs in this country will require post-secondary training but not a four-year degree. Yet as it stands, less than 20 percent of the workforce has vocational certification

In short, we have a skilled worker shortage. It should be the goal of lawmakers across the political spectrum to encourage youth not pursuing post-secondary academic studies to obtain training in a skill area that will provide them with the opportunity to earn a living wage and a career track that will ultimately give them a path to the middle class. . . . “

More attention on industrial skills training, combined with a deemphasis of “the lecture” in favor of increased insistence on simulations and technology learning will be a winning recipe.

More on Monday – – –

Bill Walton: co-Founder, ITC Learning
(Mondays & Wednesdays)