Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2015
In our search for what should be meant by a “better adult,” we will have to look at least briefly at every major facet of adult life. That search will be assisted by a preliminary look at the difference in talents and interests relevant to vocational life (in this chapter) and at major differences in gender interests (in Chapter 3). By starting this way – with an emphasis on differences and variety – we should avoid the mistake of describing a better adult in specific, idealized terms.
Preparing for a vocation is one of the seven aims posited by the Cardinal Principles, and it is at the top of today's popular list of educational/financial aims. In this chapter, we will look first at the question of whether all students should be prepared for college and what reasonable alternatives might be suggested. Then, assuming we agree to expand vocational educational at the secondary level, we will explore ways in which that education can be intellectually enriched. As we move along in this exploration, we will encounter political and social issues; these, too, are controversial, but they must be addressed. Finally, we will consider how our middle schools can contribute to the success of vocational programs in high school.
EVERYONE TO COLLEGE?
At least two of our recent presidents have explicitly endorsed the idea that all of our young people should attend college, and many in the general population seem to agree. I have already mentioned some critics who disagree with this recommendation, claiming that some (perhaps many) students are not capable of rigorous college work. Either we admit fewer students, they advise, or we sacrifice the quality of our college courses. Whether or not we agree with this argument, we must acknowledge that interests and talents vary, and I will argue that the job of the school is to help students locate and develop those interests and talents. The wrong question has been asked repeatedly.