The Dire Need of Career & Technical Education

When I went to school, I never considered where I would be in my life now. I never thought that my career options would be limited by the fact that I have an education degree. I have a B.S. in Middle Childhood Education from a small liberal arts college that I attended close to home. I love being a teacher, even though my position now lends itself to more of an educational consultant-ish role.work-smart-and-hard-with-sticker-6-18-2013-2

But I do wish that I would have pursued a more hands-on, minds-on approach to career and technical education (aka: CTE) courses. I recall back to my days at Gahanna Middle School West in a wood shop classroom. We learned CAD and created name blocks for our desks. I know that I made at least 4 of them for my friends and to keep for myself. This was my first experience with fabrication and I wish that I would have put the stereotype that females “weren’t good at this” out of my mind and pursued wood shop further.

Now that I am still not sure what I “want to be when I grow up”, I am finding that my options are limited because of my lack of foundational skills because I spent so much time in education classes instead of science classes at the college level. My content knowledge in the subjects I teach is equivalent to having 2 minors (I am certified to teach Technology, English, and Science in Virginia at the middle school level). I would like to go back to school to earn an associated degree in engineering, but I have so little math content into my major classes at Otterbein, I am scared that an associate’s degree would take way longer because practical knowledge does not compensate for a pretty penny that is a college class about “Star Trek”. Not kidding. Doug took that class at Trinity College in Hartford.

Why is the fact that I can operate a 3D printer not enough content knowledge to find a job in fabrication? Why is it that nobody considers that fact I can format webpages and utilize web design and honestly have a pretty good eye for design enough experience? When are practical experience and CTE classes going to get the credit they so deserve? I never though that making myself marketable for a job after college would also make me pigeon-holed into a career, I’m truly not sure that I want to do anymore.

If I feel this way, how can we expect out 14-year-old students to be scheduling their entire coursework through high school?  There are guidance counselors that truly do not care to understand the need for the highly skilled worker that is only created is we encourage students to look into technical colleges or high schools. This is really important. Guidance counselors need to understand the DIRE situation our country is in. Our workforce is more skilled than the students we are producing in the K-12 pipeline at this time.  Why can’t we work smart AND hard. Does it have to be either/or?

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