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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Are Career Technical Educators "Real" Teachers?

Are Career Technical Educators "Real" Teachers?

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According to practically all credible sources of labor statistics, the largest number of present and future jobs with the best pay will require technical skills. Many of these jobs require only a two-year associate’s degree or an apprenticeship certificate. Electricians, plumbers, nurses and many other jobs are in high demand and pay salaries which are comparable and many times higher than those which require 4-year Bachelor’s Degrees. Sonia Nieto often discusses in her book,"What Keeps Teachers Going", how teachers are disrespected by society. However, Career and Technical Educators are often looked down upon and disrespected not only in the larger community but within education itself. Will the Education community ever wake up and realize that Career Technical Educators are teachers too?

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Cid Vargo's picture

Thanks for the support, Samuel. Over my 29 years of teaching English in vocational high schools, I tire of justifying my college education being "wasted" teaching career tech students. I'm so proud of my students who open their own businesses in the community and come back to be on advisory committees. That's when I know their education meant something to them and they are willing to take the time to say, "Thanks." (and 14 years later they send their kids to our school!)

Matt Sorrells's picture

I completely agree. Although a students core classes are very important, many of them will use the skills learned in their vocational classes much more throughout the rest of their lives.

Mark Moore's picture

I understand your view. As a special education professional I have heard other teachers referred to as real teachers. Very few people in our school would be successful in either of our positions. Many of the students that have graduated from my Self Contained EBD program are prosperous within our community. They have their own families, cars,and houses. We are providing not only a valuable service to our school, but also to our community. Stay motivated, what you do is important.

Sean R. Feely's picture

One of the first comments I heard when I started teaching in HS was from another teacher who said," Your not a real teacher"! I thought I was going to die. There is no doubt that what we do to educate the students constitutes us as "teachers". I think the issue is the way we obtain our certification. Our society tends to frown at anything that is from outside the norm and in our case there is obviously no exception to this rule. I took the GACE Basic Skills exam and was certified by Cadet Command in an instructor certification course. I have an AA/BS and Masters degree and 20 years experience in the field in which I am teaching. If I'm not a teacher then something is wrong. If the Education community doesn't want to accept those credentials compared to "regular" teacher with a four year college education coming straight into this profession then their opinion doesn't matter to me. Keep on doing what your do!

Dan Woschitz's picture

We all teach students, and should work as a unified team to educate our students. I don't criticize my wife for not being as good a parent as me because I teach them to play ball better than she does. We should play to our stregnths as teachers and our stregnths in our content. I celebrate all teachers who are rigerous in teaching their diciplines.

Susan Mortensen's picture

I think some teachers make a distinction between required and elective courses with required courses being more important in their view. With the new career paths in place and courses being required for those career paths, that view may change somewhat. Another distinction I think some people make is between "book work" or academic learning and "hands on" learning. The distinction makes little sense in today's world, however. All learning is academic learning and all learning is enhanced when we offer students "hands on" or "real world" activities and experiences.

Chuck Yeater's picture

Academic education is a great and necessary thing; however, education by itself is not enough to prepare our young people to provide for themselves and their families in the future. The practical teachings of CTAE classes, combined with academics is a partnership that will best help our students. It is unfortunate that there are some who don't understand that.

scott bates's picture

Every student has different skills and talents, anyone whose job it is to tap into those specialized abilities is just as important as any other.

Anon's picture

I work with mostly the college-prep crowd, but it doesn't matter what they're doing in the future... they need to take tech courses too! Imagine how much easier their lives would be if they knew basic car maintenance, electrical repairs, nutrition, etc. There's too much of a push in education to go to college and not enough focus on do-it-yourself practical skills acquisition. There's no reason students shouldn't be encouraged to do a dual diploma, but I know a lot of society has the impression that tech classes are for dummies. That's insane, but there's no way to combat parents who insist their kids are college-material and won't listen to their kid saying s/he is interested in something technical.

Realistically, we know there are students who don't want college and as advisors, we need to address their concerns. Why should I keep trying to convince them about college when I should be telling them about career choices that would actually interest them? 4 year schools are not necessary for everyone. Students can have great jobs doing what they love without that big degree. I feel ridiculous telling students who are already burned out on formal education about 4+ more years. The same goes for the future child-care worker, nurse, or computer technician. The kids know they don't need college for the jobs they want and as educators, the professional thing to do would be to accept and prepare them for their choices.

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