Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blending "Hand Work" and "Brain Work": Can Multiple Pathways Deepen Learning?

Rose, M. (2008). Blending “hand work” and “brain work”: can multiple pathways deepen learning? In J. Oakes & M. Saunders (Eds.) Beyond tracking: multiple pathways to college, career, and civic participation (pp. 21-35). Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.

The first chapter of Beyond Tracking explores the common understandings and misconceptions of Multiple Pathways. This article focus on perspectives of CTE (Career and Technical Education) and provides an alternative discussion about Multiple Pathways and student learning. Mike Rose discusses the key features of good career and technical education programs and concludes the following are essential:
1. Many tasks students do are authentic with consequences
2. Tasks are rich in opportunities to develop knowledge, solve problems, make discussions, reflect on practice, etc.
3. Tradition academic pursuits are embedded in these tasks.
4. Student assessment is authentic
5. Learning environments are real world work based
6. Blended with the cognitive and technical are craft values, ethical concerns and aesthetics
7. Good teachers share predictable characteristics

In addition to the essential components of CTE, Rose also introduces the barriers to achieving the goals of CTE. His discussion hi-lights many of the challenges to Multiple Pathways including rethinking our definition of intelligence and accommodating student interests.

The purpose of Rose’s contribution to the greater book, is to give more clarification to the goals and purpose of Career and Technical Education. His article serves as an introduction to the rest of the book that includes discussions about Multiple Pathways and societal benefit, the future of democracy, and improved student outcomes.

“The effect is to depict CTE as cognitively inferior not only in its practice (which, sadly, t can be) but also in its essence. This depiction inflames long-standing subject area battles between CTE and academic folk and reinscribes cultural biases and simplifications about manual versus mental activity, blue-collar work versus white-collar, hand versus brain” (Rose, 24).

“The first challenge must be to the concept of intelligence itself: its definition, the limits of our standard measures of it, and our lack of appreciation for its manifestation in the everyday” (Rose, 31).

“Our notion of intelligence is strongly influenced by the IW test and traditional verbal and quantitative school tasks… but what about all the other ways that intellectual ability reveals itself” (Rose 31).

J. Oakes, Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985); S. Lucas, Tracking Inequality: Stratification and Mobility in American High Schools (New York: Teachers College Press, 1999).

J. Oakes, “Can Tracking Research Inform Practice?” Educational Researcher 21, no. 4 (1992): 12-22.

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