Vocational study without light relief

6th October 1995 at 01:00
With post-16 education becoming more vocationalised almost by the day, it would seem a good idea to take an occasional look at work-oriented education both within and beyond these shores. In doing just this, the quarterly Journal of Vocational Education and Training: the Vocational Aspect of Education offers some stodgy but still useful fare.

Particularly relevant for teachers and students in schools and colleges of education, the journal holds scholarly articles of diverse interest. The issue under review, for example, includes pieces on vocational education in the Third World, the need for flexible learning strategies in initial teacher training, and a meditation on the meaning and relative value of the degree of doctor of education. In addition, each item is preceded by an abstract, while the back pages of the journal are devoted to short book reviews.

The besetting sin of this type of publication is some gratuitously clunky writing, to which the Journal of Vocational Education and Training is no exception, alas. No light reading here, then; but most of the articles are still worth making the effort.

Arguably the best of these is Paul Gleeson's "Restructuring the industrial trades in Australia: the dark side of post-Fordism", in which the author castigates those who maintain that post-Fordist forms of industrial organisation will lessen rather than aggravate alienation in the industrial trades.

Of comparable quality is "Competency standards - a help or a hindrance? an Australian Perspective", a thoughtful piece from Paul Hager.

Here, the author makes a powerful and, for this country, timely appeal for a more flexible approach to competency assessment than is currently practised. Teachers of national vocational qualifications especially will find much to ponder here.

Overall, the Journal of Vocational Education and Training provides a platform for those whose involvement in the field goes well beyond the merely practical.

Like it or not, work-centred education looms large in all our lives; a journal like this could make a valuable contribution to an important debate.

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