ERIC Identifier: ED289998
Publication Date: 1987-00-00
Author: Harrison, Cheryl
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Education for Tomorrow's Vocational Teachers. Overview. ERIC
Digest No. 67.
Today's graduating or beginning vocational teachers will spend most of
their teaching lives in the twenty-first century. Although it is little more
than a decade away, the twenty-first century carries some connotation of a time
when our lives (and our schools) will be very different from what they are now.
This digest discusses some of the duties teachers will face in and out of the
future classroom. It also covers the recommendations of the Holmes Group report, "Tomorrow's Teachers," and the Carnegie Forum paper, "A Nation Prepared:
Teachers for the 21st Century," and discusses the implications of these reports
for vocational teacher education.
FUTURE DUTIES OF VOCATIONAL TEACHERS
Vocational teachers in today's classrooms have multiple responsibilities that
continually require more knowledge and experience than was needed in earlier
years. According to Milanovich (1986), being an effective vocational teacher
today means having knowledge and/or experience in four areas: a specific skill
area; instructional planning, implementation, and evaluation; classroom and
laboratory management; and occupational experience. Tomorrow's vocational
teachers will need to have competency in all of these areas; they will also need
to develop skills in areas seemingly distant from their primary duty, teaching.
What kinds of duties will teachers have in the year 2000?
First, vocational teachers will be expected to teach, but what will be the
content? Clearly, job-specific skills for entry-level employment will continue
to be a learning need. It may be less obvious that employability concepts (for
example, promptness, neatness) and basic skills are also learning needs, and for
many students they are best taught in vocational classes where they can
immediately be applied to work. Increasingly, teachers are told that students
must also acquire higher order thinking skills (Crain 1987).
Second, vocational instructors must address individual needs in the
classroom. They will need to work with special educators and administrators to
help students with disabilities learn alongside their peers. Some students
without outward disabilities will also require remedial help. In addition,
vocational teachers must meet the needs of academic-track students who may take
vocational classes. The teacher must be sensitive to the need to challenge, but
not overwhelm, all students.
Vocational teachers will also manage experiential learning programs in the
future. Some programs will be internal--such as operating a small store or a
simulated office--and will require extensive coordination. Others will be
external and may require teachers to recruit employers, set up contractual
agreements, or coach students in interview techniques. Teachers will need
similar skills as advisors to vocational student groups.
The public image of vocational education will be of great concern to
vocational teachers as it affects both student recruitment and job placement.
Public relations work for teachers may include speaking before community groups,
preparing press releases, and organizing a program-wide open house.
Another responsibility that will fall heavily on vocational teachers is
keeping up to date. Advances in instructional technology are not difficult to
follow--inservice workshops frequently focus on this topic--but technological
changes in the workplace are more important to vocational education. If teachers
do not keep current with these changes, programs quickly become dated and
graduates must be retrained--or worse, they cannot find employment. In addition
to technology, teachers must keep up with workplace trends and customs (for
example, women in nontraditional occupations, entrepreneuring) (Milanovich
All teachers will be increasingly responsible for their own professional
development. Although many in-service education opportunities exist, the
vocational teacher must choose not only what best fits a busy schedule but also
what fits his or her development needs (Adams and others 1987).
THE TEACHER EDUCATION REPORTS
"Accountability" is the buzzword of the national call for educational reform.
The demand for accountability means that instructors must work toward improved
performance. Their education should help them with this task.
Two recent reports attempting to plan the reform of teacher education are
TOMORROW'S TEACHERS (Holmes Group 1986) and A NATION PREPARED: TEACHERS FOR THE
21ST CENTURY (Carnegie Forum 1986). Recommendations from these two reports
attempt to reintroduce "excellence" into teacher education in all content areas.
The Holmes Group, in particular, has invited several major teacher education
institutions to join in implementing these recommendations (Miller 1987).
The goals of the Holmes Group report include the following:
--Teacher proficiency in subjects and skills taught --Recognizing differences
in knowledge, skill, and commitment --Creating entry standards --Connecting
teacher education programs to schools --Improving the work environment.
The following Carnegie Forum goals are very similar:
--Creating a national board of standards
--Making the school a more professional environment
--Restructuring the teaching force
--Requiring a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite to professional teaching
--Developing a professional curriculum for the master of teaching degree
--Preparing minority youth as teachers
--Relating teacher incentives to student performance and providing necessary
--Making teacher salaries competitive with those of other professionals
(Adams and others 1987).
IMPLICATIONS OF THE REPORTS FOR VOCATIONAL TEACHER EDUCATION
Implementation of recommendations from the Holmes and Carnegie reports would
mean that teachers would have a master's degree (and thus would have completed
five years of postsecondary education) before they would be fully certified
professionals. A mandatory five-year certification program will affect teacher
education student recruitment greatly.
A survey of 715 member institutions, undertaken by the American Association
of Colleges for Teacher Education, found that fewer than 30 percent of those
reporting made attempts at student recruitment. The schools that did recruit
students limited their contacts almost entirely to high school students (Lynch
1986). College student recruitment may have been considered too late in the
past, since those pursuing education must start taking classes early to fit in
all requirements in four years.
Under the revised program, students' decisions to teach would not have to be
made so early, since most teaching classes would take place in the fifth year.
Thus, recruitment by teacher education programs in general might take place
later, when student commitment to teaching may be stronger and retention may be
However, in the area of vocational teacher education, the best
students--those who know vocational content--may choose a well-paying industrial
job after a one- or two-year postsecondary vocational program instead of going
to college, especially for five years. If all recruitment efforts are deferred
until college, this important population will be entirely missed. It has been
found that those who enter vocational teacher education seem to have been
attracted to that subject by a perceived option to enter industry if they find
teaching unsatisfactory; a positive early experience with a vocational program;
or the opportunity to be associated with vocational youth organizations. This
information may be useful in recruiting high quality students to be vocational
teachers (Lynch 1986).
The work experience requirement is the major difference between general and
vocational-technical teacher education (Milanovich 1986). The importance of
occupational experience must not be undervalued when considering implementation
of the report recommendations. In fact, several vocational subject areas (for
example, health education) do not currently rely on university teacher education
programs for teachers, but use teachers educated through worksite-based programs
Vocational education is an applied area; thus, teachers must be able to apply
their knowledge. Milanovich (1986) states that the current trend is to document
students' work experience by having previous (or current) employers verify hours
of work and job responsibilities. It has not yet been determined when is the
best time to complete work experience within the teacher's educational
experience. It will be important to resolve this issue before implementing a
five-year program (Crain 1987).
A final issue that must be addressed is whether it is appropriate for
vocational teacher education to limit itself to one educational delivery and
certification model. Traditionally, teachers have been certified after
completing a required course of study, generally leading to a bachelor's degree.
More recently, in some states, prospective teachers have been required to pass
tests that prove their competency before they can be certified. With their
emphasis on competency tests and professional standards, the reform reports seem
to advocate decreasing flexibility in the model for teacher education.
Finch (1986) points out that aspiring vocational teachers do not always come
directly from school to teaching and recommends that some flexibility be built
into the system. Keeping entry options somewhat open will be extremely important
to avoid a teacher shortage, especially if teacher education programs stretch to
five years and enrollment rates decrease.
A FUTURE VISION
It is likely that change in vocational teacher education will come about as a
result of the reform reports and other pressures within the education community.
The final effects of this movement will probably be felt within the next decade.
According to Miller (1987), most vocational teacher educators are dedicated to
reform but do not wish to lose enrollments; thus, they have decided to wait and
see what will happen. Miller predicts that one attractive option could include a
"noncertificate" bachelor's degree that would allow some limited teaching
experience before the teaching certificate is obtained. However, he concludes
that there are many workable alternative responses to educational reform and
that future research should concentrate on identifying these.
This digest is based on the following two papers:
Lynch, R. L. "Recruitment and Retention of Vocational Education Teachers." In
Alan Robertson, ed., ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE IN VOCATIONAL TEACHER EDUCATION. New
York: Institute for Research and Development in Occupational Education, 1986. ED
Milanovich, N. J. "Vocational-Technical Teacher Certification-- Where Are We?
And Where Are We Going?" In Alan Robertson, ed., ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE IN
VOCATIONAL TEACHER EDUCATION. New York: Institute for Research and Development
in Occupational Education, 1986. ED 270 598.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Adams, Dewey A., Frank C. Pratzner, Harold B. Anderson, and Mary E. Zimmerer.
"Vocational Teacher Education in an Era of Change." VOCATIONAL EDUCATION JOURNAL
62 (1987): 24-27.
Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy's Task Force on Teaching as a
Profession. A NATION PREPARED: TEACHERS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. New York: Carnegie
Corporation of New York, 1986. ED 268 ED 268 120.
Crain, Hazel. "A Personal Response to the Holmes Report." VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION JOURNAL 62 (1987): 16-17.
Finch, Curtis R. "Questions Raised by the Reports." VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
JOURNAL 62 (1987): 29-30.
Holmes Group, Incorporated. TOMORROW'S TEACHERS. East Lansing: Michigan State
University, 1986. ED 270 454.
Miller, Aaron J. "Holmes Group Planning: The Vocational Teacher Education
Perspective." OMICRON TAU THETA: THE ETA CHAPTER REPORT 6 (1987): 7.