Friday, March 7, 2014

What is wrong with trade schools?


Why do teachers, counselors, principals, schools, and districts only promote going to a college or university? 


Don’t we still need plumbers, mechanics, and electricians? If your car breaks down don’t you want a skilled mechanic to repair it? Would you like someone that is self-taught cutting and coloring your hair, or would you prefer someone that was professionally trained? 


I ask these questions because our “schools” seem to ignore anything having to do with a trade. When my daughter was in middle school they had a Career Day and requested that all the speakers had college degrees. Now, as a senior in high school, she is preparing to graduate and everyone that asks her where she will be going after school is taken aback when she says a trade school. Her counselor and career center teacher both tried to talk her out of it, they both asked, “wouldn't it be better for to get a degree from a college first?”.


I find this very sad and a bit disheartening, not only for my daughter but for all those “lost” kids out there thinking they have to go to college because being a hairdresser, plumber, mechanic (car, motorcycle or aircraft) or construction manager is not a good enough job. I feel like instead of helping these kids find a career that they can succeed in they are pushing them to fail. 


What do I mean by fail? Let me use my daughter as an example. She has some learning disabilities. School is hard for her but not difficult (she is a straight A student). She HATES school. Everything is a process, long and hard and frustrating and the thought of having to do 4+ more years of school was daunting to her. Thankfully, last year she started REALLY taking an interest in doing hair and make-up. She has become quite good and many of her friends have hired her to do their hair and make-up for pictures, dances and award ceremonies. With this interest we looked into different trade schools, and even community colleges that have cosmetology programs. She settled on Paul Mitchel and she is SOOOO excited to start in September. Now, had I been one of those parents that have the mindset that she has to go to a college and get a degree, I would be pushing her to fail. She would struggle and be really unhappy. It upsets me that people that know nothing about my daughter assume that they know best and instead of trying to talk her out of her passion they should congratulate her for knowing exactly what she wants and knowing how to go about getting it.


I think there are many kids that are just like my daughter and are not “students”. Let’s face it, we all have kids in our class that just don’t enjoy being at school, doing the work, or feel bad when they worked hard on a test or paper only to get a low score on it. I just wish that instead of ignoring those trade schools, we celebrated them. Let’s share them with everyone so that these kids can find a field that might interest them, something they can complete and in the end get a job and make a living.


As soon as the schools start talking about and promoting trade schools, then maybe parents will also look at them as a great alternative to college. There are too many parents “pushing” college on their kids that really aren’t college material. Let’s take a look at my daughter again. As soon as she decided to go to trade school we stopped the college level courses and she took just the required classes to graduate. I mentioned above that she has straight A’s, well that is because she is in classes that fit her. She feels great about herself and the work she does in school. Because the pressure was off, the grades went up.

I feel like too many parents are in denial and instead of helping their child succeed they are driving them further into the land of unfulfilling minimum wage part time work, or a party till you drop college experience because they could really care less about the classes and care more about the social scene.


Let’s face it, there’s always going to be those kids that become doctors and lawyers and such, but if we keep ignoring and poo-pooing trade schools will there be a plumber when you really need one?

Just my 2 cents,


8 comments :

  1. Shawna, I completely agree and thanks so much for posting this. For many of the individuals with autism, this is true as well. Shouldn't we always try to find what a student's passion is and help them achieve the opportunity to live their life doing what they love and are successful at rather than what "society" dictates and is not what they enjoy. Kudos to you for supporting your daughter and thank you for sharing her story. The old saying is "Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life." Those of us lucky enough to be doing that know that it is somewhat true....and yet often those same people who love their own job keep our kids from finding what their love will be. Great post!

    Chris
    Autism Classroom News
    A Special Sparkle

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    1. Thanks Chris! I guess until the school mentality changes we as teachers just need to talk about all the options and doing what you love.
      Shawna

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! Kudos to you for being such a wise and supportive mom! As an RtI teacher I often worry about the future of my students in a college readiness focused environment. Everyone has a special gift. I would hope that as educators we would know that college doesn't hold the exclusive rights to talented people. I am envious of your daughter's talent. I am all thumbs when it comes to my hair! When I visit the salon, I go straight home because I don't want anyone I know to see what potential my hair has! :)

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    1. Thanks Jen for leaving a comment. I guess until schools stop treating all students as one unit, it is our jobs as their teacher to talk about all the options and help them find their own interests.
      Shawna

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  3. This is so true! I have four children, three went to college and one did not. All are productive and happy. The one who did not is probably the smartest of the bunch...but not in sit in school kind of way. He was unhappy in school, tried college, but dropped out to do the things he enjoyed and was good at. While in college he really liked all his trade classes and those are the things he uses now (electronics, computers, and mechanics). Thanks for posting about this!

    Terri Izatt
    KinderKapers

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    1. Hi Terri, thanks for sharing about your son. If my daughter can earn a decent living doing what she loves, without them having to go to college, then I am one proud mama!
      Shawna

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  4. Shawna you are so correct! My son was able to go to tech school for 1/2 day his junior and senior years of HS and I think it's truly the only thing that got him through high school. He loves his automotive technology program at the tech school and his successes there convinced him that maybe he could try to go to college. He's going to attend college this fall working towards a BS in Automotive Technology. I am POSITIVE if he did not have the opportunity to go to tech school during high school, he would not be college-bound now. He's struggled with ADD and hates reading; a traditional high school college track made him feel stupid!

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    1. Hi Deb,
      Thanks for sharing about your son, that is awesome! I am glad to hear that he was smart enough to want to take those classes in high school and that the "stigma" of taking those classes didn't deter him. I have a friend whose son is not college material but will absolutely not take any of those classes because only "dumb" kids take those. He would rather fail his college bound classes and have to retake them than do something that he can be successful at. Unfortunately that stigma comes not only from school but from his parents. They are now trying to "talk" him into those classes but he wont consider it because of that stigma. Congratulations to you and your very smart son to see the potential and opportunity in those trades. I have no doubt he will be a happy successful young man!
      Shawna

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Thoughts and comments are always welcome!

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