The idea that college is the only path to success has always concerned me. I was able to research this social trend under the advisement of Lisa Babb winter 2015 in Methodologies. Through this project, I was able to develop a more formal conceptual strategy based on extensive research.
Western culture tends to have a classist view of vocational occupations–people encourage pursuit of careers in highly esteemed fields like medicine or law, rather than trades like plumbing, cosmetology, or construction.
As a result, student debt is skyrocketing because there’s a preconceived notion that the only path to a successful career is through a traditional 4-year college.
People are racking up debt earning degrees that might not necessarily have a high return on investment.
In general, our culture does not recognize the value that trades can offer in terms of job security or financial independence.
Many elementary school programs are already pushing the idea of college on students as young as 6 years old.
Kindergarten to College is a program that takes children to university campuses and shows them classrooms and other facilities. A director of K2C touted the program’s necessity by stating,
At this age, children should be learning to love education instead of feeling the pressures to fit this "college mold" that we've become enslaved to.
If we are indoctrinating this mindset in kindergarten, when will children learn about other jobs or options?
A big factor in how we tend to view success is our parents’ or guardians’ opinions of career paths.
One of the reasons why vocational jobs are deemed inferior is the pursuit of them seems like a last minute resort because a student didn't plan ahead.
What if we showed children the value of trades by using them as tools for lesson plans?
What if we exposed parents to compelling statistics that emphasized the merits of pursuing a trade?
Tradeworks is a fictional organization whose purpose is to teach children about different types of vocational occupations through fun, engaging, and educational activities.
In its first year, Tradeworks would partner with schools to recruit businesses in local communities to participate. Employees from each participating business would come to elementary classrooms and would lead an educational activity that is relevant to the curriculum and involves concepts that are used in that particular occupation. For example, a chef might come and teach students how to add fractions by doubling a recipe of cookies.
Tradeworks would expand to include a workbook called Destination Vocation. This workbook would be a microcosm of the initiative taking place in schools. Different activities would relate to what students are learning in different grades. Additionally, the workbook would include messages to parents, including statistics about salary, job security, or projected growth in different markets
As a nod to the craft of trades, I illustrated this cover by cutting out shapes with colored paper and assembling them to form the image.
Further, Tradeworks-branded educational sets would be sold at stores like Target and Toys ‘r Us. These sets would be tangible, take-home examples of the in-class Tradeworks activities. These commercial executions would also fund the classroom initiatives that are the foundation of the program.