Education, Autonomy, and Democratic Citizenship: Philosophy in a Changing World

By David Bridges | Go to book overview

9

MORALITY, WORK AND COMPETENCE

Social values in vocational education and training

Terry Hyland

Perhaps the single most important goal for a teacher to work towards has to do with the basic attitude towards work.

(Jarrett 1991:206)


VALUES AND VOCATIONALISM

Since the early 1970s there has been a Vocationalisation’ of education (Hyland 1991) at all levels in response to rising youth unemployment, economic globalisation of markets and post-Fordist industrial re-structuring (Esland 1990). Vocationalism—in the sense of the reinforcement of the economic utility and job preparation functions of schools and colleges—is now a ‘world-wide trend’ and a ‘common thread which runs across the education and, increasingly, the employment policies of every country, whatever its level of development, political system or geographical location’ (Skilbeck et al. 1994:7). Moreover, such developments have had an impact, not just on the traditional spheres of vocational education and training, but on all sectors and domains of education, from schools (Moon 1990) to universities (Neave 1992). Education and training have become commodities to be sold or bartered in the marketplace.

This so-called ‘new vocationalism’ (Esland 1990) has, however, been dominated by a one-dimensional, technicist approach to VET represented by the competence-based education and training (CBET) strategies popularised through the National Council for Vocational for Qualifications (NCVQ) in Britain (Wolf 1995) and Australasia (Gonczi 1994) and widely established in the United States. This excessively technicist approach to vocational education and training (VET) has been described as ‘morally impoverished’ (Fish 1993:10). If it allows for the discussion of values at all, it generates a largely uncritical and mechanistic approach in which something called ‘moral competence’ (Wright 1989, Hyland 1992) is recommended largely as a means of

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