Academic Learning or Occupational Skills? Discussing a Dichotomy

Oct 30, 2019 |
New York, NY
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The Fall 2019 issue of Dædalus, Improving Teaching: Strengthening the College Learning Experience, features 12 essays exploring the quality of students’ college experience in the classroom.

The issue’s editors, Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson, spoke at an event in Cambridge that was webcast live before the discussion in New York.

Baum and McPherson discussed the importance of attending to quality and noted that it’s woefully absent in most public policy discussions of higher education. As they write in the introduction, “Paying for college and even getting a credential ultimately will not mean much unless college students have high-quality educational experiences that add real value for them in their careers and in their civic and personal lives.”

New York Discussion

Following the conclusion of the webcast on teaching, learning, and the larger educational environment, Thomas Bailey and Clive Belfield led an in-person discussion.

Bailey and Belfield contributed the essay “The False Dichotomy between Academic Learning & Occupational Skills” to the Fall 2019 issue of Dædalus. In their essay, they compare academic and vocational program goals with a focus primarily on community college students and argue that a separation of tracks presents a false dichotomy. In the essay and at this conversation, the authors suggest educational paths are accumulations of general education followed by terminal work-related education, which they label the Gen-Tech framework. The conversation at Teachers College was an opportunity to discuss the Gen-Tech framework and its implications for students and schools.