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September 14, 2010

Vocational Education?

Filed under: Arts,Culture And Society,Science And Technology — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 10:06 pm

It astounds me how our political leaders don’t understand that new ideas come out of endeavours that aren’t necessarily associated with well defined jobs. Do they really think that people like Einstein came up with the “Theory Of Relativity” through their job training? The theory came out of Einstein’s thought experiments!

The current paradigm, that goes back to the late 1980’s, believes all you need to do is get an education or be trained for a job i.e. Vocational Education. The notion of eduction for life and eduction for innovation went out the window years ago. Dreamers and visionaries no longer have a place in Australian society – then again, maybe they never did – and you can see this, when you compare the budgets for the Arts and Pure Sciences against the applied fields and economics. History, Philosophy, Literature, etc. are viewed as irrelevant because they don’t lead to a direct job. Pure Mathematics, Physics, Palaeontology, etc. aren’t valued because it’s thought they don’t accomplish anything economically. The irony is, that without people having studied in these fields and “mused” over “irrelevant” questions, insights and discoveries which have improved society and driven technology would never have happened.

Take for instance your little USB memory stick – this device came out of pure research in solid state physics. At the time of its discovery, i.e. many decades ago, solid state theory had no practical use for the idea, but if those researchers hadn’t been allowed to pursue their research for the sake of knowledge alone, you wouldn’t have your little storage device today!

This issue was recently covered in ABC’s Radio National – Big Ideas presentation titled: Weaving the Rainbow: The Poet and The Scientist Speak. The presentation included Les Murray and Barry Jones talking about where Education has gone wrong in Australia and how there is no vision for the future.

Unfortunately our nation’s politicians don’t seem to understand that one needs to pay more attention to the nation’s thinkers – i.e. our thinkers are the true visionaries, guides and seers into the future. Instead of taking on board what people like Jones and Murray have said over the years, the current PM has down graded education to such an extent, that we now don’t have a Ministry Of Education in the new parliament – just 3 smaller ministries preparing people for jobs! We are well and truly on the way to becoming the region’s Eurasian trash. All the country will be good for in the long run, is handing over resources and doing menial jobs that drive the immediate economy.

I therefore fear, thinking and dreaming will have to be done elsewhere – God help Australia’s creative young who spend all their time “musing” on things that are deemed irrelevant! Not only will they be unable to develop their ideas into robust theories but they’ll have no means of earning a living from their intellectual passion!

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2010

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