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Re: [xmca] From Mike Rose on academic-vocational divide

Thanks, Mike Cole and Mike Rose.

I am now going to try to think through and write an explanation of how the "academic-vocational divide" arises from the false dichotomy of mind and hand. 

In the meantime, here are some photos of a meeting yesterday of labor educators, some from colleges and universities (City College, UCB), some from unions, some from CBOs, at City College of San Francisco. It took place in the CityBUild (basic carpentry) spaces and was led by Bill Shields, head of Labor Studies there.  


Many of the photos show participants elaborating on how they draw discussions out of a simple popular education exercise in which you illustrate the economy by making piles of pinto beans. 


Helena Worthen
21 San Mateo Road
Berkeley, CA 94707
Visiting Scholar, UCB Center for Labor Research and Education

On Feb 16, 2012, at 6:10 AM, mike cole wrote:

> Dear Helena and Everyone, This is such a good exchange. I wanted to respond
> quickly to a few issues Helena raises in her two posts. (And, as David
> notes, she raises them "sublimely.")
> 1. The academic/vocational divide is bridged when economics--and with
> economics, history, sociology, politics--is brought into a discussion of
> work. I give some treatment to this point in The Mind at Work (especially
> in the chapter on American Vocational Education in high school), but,
> sadly, not adequately in the current article. Helena provides that much
> fuller elaboration.
> 2. In her first post, Helena asks if the student welders I write about
> "learn why there are no old welders." Actually, they do, and in a way that
> is worth describing briefly, for it leads to another point. Both of the
> lead instructors continually urge their students to stay in school to get
> an Associates of Sciences degree as well as their welding certificate
> because it opens the door to teach or to gain further education to become a
> welding inspector or other related work. They drive home the hazards of
> welding and why students need to think beyond their initial welding jobs.
> They also support joining the union and the American Welding Society, a
> trade group. Not all students can stay in school that long, for the
> immediate demands on some of them are immense, but the message is driven
> home continually.
>  Clearly this is not the same kind of thing Helena describes, it is not
> oriented toward a political analysis of work and the labor market. But it
> does alert students to the hazards of the work and tries to provide some
> options for protection and advancement. So given local history, the
> backgrounds of particular participants, etc., various kinds of broader
> treatments of work and working conditions can emerge.
> 3. This is not directly related to Helena's or anyone's particular
> comments, but I want to raise it again, for I don't want us to lose sight
> of it. We all use the word "skills" as a kind of shorthand for techniques,
> and, in common usage, "skills" tends to be contrasted with the conceptual,
> the analytical, etc. But ultimately, I think, we want to affirm a richer
> meshing of "technique" and "concept," for their separation in discourse
> contributes to the academic/vocational divide.
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