Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Auto mechanics also teaches qualities attributed to humanities

  • Print

In his Feb. 4 article Ken Osborne states "preparing the young for democratic citizenship" is a fundamental role for our schools. I agree with this statement.

I disagree, however, with his suggestion that allocation of educational resources to "boosting high school skills and career development" does not support that very same goal. "Talk of skills and career preparation" need not, indeed should not, be seen as "replacing education for democratic citizenship."

The opportunities to nurture the qualities of inquiry, collaboration, respect and self-confidence exist not only in history, geography and literature. These attributes can also be nurtured in applied areas of study such as physics, automotive mechanics, computer programming, graphic design and electronics.

Regrettably, too often knowledge and skills are presented as unrelated areas, with one being more lofty than the other; the best of talent is evident when the two are seen as complementary. A surgeon has both knowledge and skill as does the qualified tradesperson or technician.

Preparing students for opportunities in the job market is an honourable goal for education. Indeed we do a great disservice to those who are not adequately prepared to seek employment. Some will make the transition before high school graduation, many immediately upon graduation and others following some level of post-secondary study. Most will eventually be "looking for a job." Those who enter more directly deserve as much attention as those who follow an extended program of studies. Osborne acknowledges that a balance of knowledge and skills is the best preparation for citizenship.

Citizen participation requires knowledge and skills which shape personal attributes -- communication skills, ability to engage others, respect for diversity, a sense of responsibility, ability to reason and, fundamentally, a sense of personal self- worth. Many of these attributes will be shaped by experiences encountered in families, as well as in educational settings and in community.

These same qualities are essential in meaningful employment, an essential component of our citizenship role. The absence of employment leads to frustration and poverty, this marginalization in turn leads to disengagement in the democratic process.

There are countless reports than identify school-to-work transition as a major gap and a major source of frustration for students and parents. I applaud Education Minister James Allum for the attention he brought to this matter in making his funding announcement. Perhaps his announcement and Osborne's article will nurture the required discussion amongst educational leaders and parents on the role of schools in preparing students for transition to work. There is indeed "more to schools than jobs," but without meaningful engagement in the workforce, the role of a citizen in a democratic society will not reach full potential.

A joint report (2002) from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) made the following statement: "It is our fervent hope that this publication will inspire member states to put in place technical and vocational education and training policies and programmes that will facilitate the effective preparation of people for the world of work and responsible citizenship."

I support the sentiment of this statement as a laudable goal for education in Manitoba.

 

Leonard Harapiak is a former school principal, NDP cabinet minister and director of the Winnipeg Technical College.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 7, 2014 A11

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Bowman questioned on financial solutions for city

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 101130-Winnipeg Free Press Columns of light reach skyward to the stars above Sanford Mb Tuesday night. The effect is produced by streetlights refracting through ice crystals suspended in the air on humid winter nights. Stand Up.....
  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think e-cigarettes should be banned by the school division?

View Results

Ads by Google