Background and History
The advancement of technology has created drastic changes in the job market. The influence of technology can be found in virtually every aspect of our lives. Many of the jobs in existence now did not exist ten or even five years ago. U.S. companies now operate in an international economy that creates greater competition at home and abroad. The skills needed to get and keep a job are continually changing, and all workers will face a need to be lifelong learners.
While education is sometimes accused of not adapting to change, in reality considerable effort and resources are being applied to revising and updating programs and creating new programs to meet the skill requirements of the workplace. The junior high CTE Introduction course, the Career and Technical Education Core requirement for middle school/junior high school students, is no exception. Following the Great Depression and World War II, junior high students were required to enroll in courses that emphasized self-sufficiency skills. Boys were required to participate in "industrial arts" and girls in "home economics" courses. With the passage of Title IX and the reduced stereotyping of adult roles, students were required to earn one unit of credit in either home economics or industrial arts. In the mid-1970s, both of these courses began to de-emphasize self-sufficiency skills and place greater emphasis on hands-on exploration activities related to careers.
In the late 1980s, the career exploration emphasis of the junior high CTE core requirement led to the development of a single course, which was broadened to include exploration activities from the fields of agriculture, business, information technology, marketing, and health occupations. The new course, known as Career and Technical Education Introduction or CTE Intro (formerly Technology, Life and Careers or TLC), was adopted by the State Board of Education as a required Core course for all students, and is generally taught in the seventh grade. Over a period of several years, it was implemented in every junior high/middle school in the state.
Following extensive site visits, surveys, and focus groups involving teachers and counselors, the following goals for the update were identified:
In 2007, revision to the standards, objectives and supporting curricula began again in order to reflect the changing nature of the world of work.
Connecting Students and Careers Through CTE Introduction
Through CTE Introduction, students have the opportunity for integrated exploration activities in career fields and career pathways developed as part of the Utah response to Perkins IV Reauthorization. Through linkages to CTE Pathways, students will gain a better understanding of career fields and potential life/career opportunities.
Talking with middle school/junior high school students about life and careers makes more sense if the process is approached from the perspective of Donald Super*, who has provided the following definitions:
In these terms, a graphic presentation of a person’s career might look like this:
In this context, the SEOP process, when connected with CTE Introduction, becomes the ideal means for helping students and their parents or guardians make more meaningful education and career choices.
Stronger ties to the career planning components of the Utah Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Program and the Student Education Occupation Plan (SEOP) can occur in the CTE Introduction course. Students have the opportunity to reflect on and then document their reactions, preferences, likes, and dislikes throughout the course. The compiled student reflections can provide direction to the wrap-up guidance and appropriate grade-level career planning activities, facilitated by the teaching team. In addition, CTE Introduction provides greater emphasis on introducing students to the concept of workplace instruction through experiences facilitated by Work-Based Learning personnel hired by school districts. Several career exploration activities can include the teachers working together with professional school counselor(s) and/or a Work-Based Learning coordinator, reducing the adult: student ratio during these activities. This reduction in ratio provides more personalized and enhanced learning for students.
The middle school years are a time of exploration and discovery. Students need experiences that will broaden their horizons. Many career opportunities are not visible to students in the communities in which they live. Relationships between interests, skills, education, and career possibilities are obscured by students’ limited experience base and the lack of effort either at home or in school, or both, to illustrate or establish linkages. The CTE Introduction course affords students a rich opportunity to explore and expand on self-understanding, to expand understanding of career possibilities related to interest, and to develop knowledge and skills for making more prepared career choices. CTE Introduction perhaps embodies the philosophy of middle school purpose better than any course available to students of this age group.
Updated January 22, 2010
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