I’d like to begin this exploration by analyzing the Dewey quote prior to diving into any of

the provided links. I interpret, “"...if I were asked to name the most needed of all reforms in the
spirit of education, I should say: 'Cease conceiving of education as mere preparation for later life,
and make it the full meaning of the present life” to mean our world needs to refocus the idea that
education is a means to an end. More specifically, I think often times we view education as a way
to attain a certain goal, a certain job rather than enjoying the process of learning. I think if we
approach higher education this way, as a ring in the employment ladder, we miss out on
enlightening pieces of information simply because we might not find them relevant to what we
want to do later on. I know I was personally criticized for pursuing an undergraduate degree in
English by my father; his argument- “what are you going to do with that”. I however had a
different philosophy, one that mirrors more of Dewey’s logic in this excerpt. I wanted to learn for
the sake of learning. I wanted to read literature to know more about the craft of writing, to know
more about the world- even further, to learn more about myself. Approaching my undergraduate
degree as such made me a sponge, constantly eager to absorb as much information as possible. I
find myself in my current degree (Masters in Secondary Education) frustrated because it has
seemed to be less about the process and the journey and more about the result. I overhear my
peers talk about wanting to rush through the program because they want to teach; they have no
desire to learn how to teach better. This is disheartening and this needs to change. With every
class I enroll in during my graduate studies I try to dive in with the same kind of enthusiasm and
passion I did in my undergraduate studies because I know focusing on the now will in turn make
me a better teacher later.
After skimming through the articles there was one I found myself immediately
gravitating towards. The document, Availability of Skilled Workers in Connecticut (Connecticut

Business and Industry Association, 2008) highlighted concerning statistics regarding the job
market in the state. The first thing I thought of after reading this was the discussion of their
inability to fill certain skilled jobs. It reminded me of a friend of mine who (after trying and
stumbling) ultimately decided that a traditional four year degree wasn’t for him. After a period of
crisis he decided to enroll in a technical skill and as a result is flourishing in this career, and has
most recently discussed the possibility of owning his own company one day. This anecdote
demonstrates that many people in my generation feel pressure to go to school to obtain a four
year degree when there are other equally important opportunities out there for them to explore
that might be more fitting. With regards to our specific state I thought it was interesting that they
reported that 83% of respondents blamed the high cost of living in the state as the reason why
they weren’t entering a skilled profession. This leads me to another interesting section in this
document titled Youth Exodus. I laughed out loud when I read this title because I know several
peers who have relocated to other areas of the country, some even left for Europe, because they
were so unhappy with the high cost of living in the state. All of the reasons they state hold true
most specifically the high cost of living and housing. And as I take a second to step back and
process all of this information I am lead to think that because our generation understands the
income needed to maintain a certain quality of life in this area, that is what leads them to pursue
a four year degree as opposed to a technical degree. I think these problems go hand and hand.
This topic also corresponds with the findings reported in CBIA Education Foundation’s
document titled Connecticut’s Manufacturing Workforce (2011). I was surprised to discover that
51% of Connecticut’s Manufacturing Workforce comes from our technical high schools. Prior to
reading this I would have imagined that the technical workforce would have liked their
employers to obtain at least an associate’s degree. While that is not a requirement I thought that it

was interesting that employers noted the three skill sets entry level candidates are missing are:
Employability (punctuality, work ethic, etc.), basic skills (reading, writing, and math), and
technical skills. While the technical skills are something that could come with an advance degree
in a specific field, the first two skill sets should be reinforced in the candidates’ high school
education whether that is traditional or technical. This is reiterated in the conclusion section of
the survey, more specifically they state, “In addition to needing employees with greater critical
thinking and blueprint reading skills, Connecticut’s manufacturers are concerned about the lack
of basic math/writing and employability skills of entry level employee” (CBIA Education
Foundation, 2011). Putting all of this information together leads me to call to question our
technical schools. From this document I concluded that technical high school students are more
advanced than their traditionally schooled peers with regards to their technical skills however
they are lacking in their personal attributes and basic academic skill sets. Are we not holding
technical schools to the same standards as traditional schools when it comes to character
development and academics? I think we must begin to see technical schools as equally as
important as our traditional schools.
I would like to pull statistics from two separate websites that discuss the field of teaching.
The first can be found in Education at a Glance (OECD, 2014). There were several fascinating
and disturbing statistics in this report but for the sake of this argument I would like to specifically
talk about the data they presented that analyzes the field of education. There are two separate
titles that in conjunction read, “Teachers work long hours and spend more time in front of their
classes but there salary is not competitive and has not increased over time” (OECD, 2014). More
specifically they explain, “In 2012, primary and lower secondary school teachers in the United
States spent more than 1 000 hours teaching in the classroom, compared with 782 hours

(primary) and 694 hours (lower secondary) among OECD countries. In the United States,
teachers spend more time teaching than their peers in any other country…” And yet despite this
commitment to their job there are reports that the salaries of United States primary school
teachers have shrunk by 3% between 2005 and 2012. I would like to transition to the polls on
teacher evaluations reported by Phi Delta Kappa International. This poll asks, “In your opinion,
how important is the following reason for evaluating a teacher’s performance in the classroom?”
And gives three possible responses: “Helping teachers improve their ability to teach, using
teacher performance to determine salaries or bonuses, and documenting ineffectiveness that
could lead to a teacher’s dismissal.” You are able to view the responses of Republicans,
Democrats, Independents, and Parents. All of these parties believe the most important reason for
evaluating a teacher’s performance in the classroom is to help teachers improve their ability to
teach. At first I thought, is this suggesting that our country believes our teachers don’t know how
to teach? I was further angered by the fact that many teachers are told how to teach by their
school district, state, and national standards. After reading these two documents I couldn’t help
but feel like this situation is hopeless. Not only are we not rewarded for our hard work in a
competitive salary but we are than called to question by politicians that pass the education laws,
bills, and standards we are expected to follow.
I was surprised by two findings reported in Employers’ Perception of Graduate
Employability (European Commission, 2010). The first being the two top desired skills European
employers sought to find in potential candidates: the ability to work in a team and strong
computer literacy. While teamwork is something that is equally as important to employers in this
country, I argue, in America, computer literacy would be replaced with critical thinking abilities.
In addition the report stated, “A slim majority of graduate recruiters (55%) answered that

graduates with bachelor’s degrees would best match the skill requirements in their company and
35% said that graduates with master’s degrees would be a better fit” (European
Commission,2010). I interpreted this to mean that there isn’t as much of a distinction between
holding a Masters or Bachelor’s degree. I think this contrasts radically to the direction our
country is headed. The most common statement I heard after I received my Bachelor’s- “You
can’t do anything with just a Bachelor’s anyway.” Lastly, I found the topic of working or
studying abroad to be an interesting characteristic exclusive to Europe. I know several of my
friends who received undergraduate Business degrees in this country that went on to pursue their
M.B.A.’s in Europe because they believed it would make them a more desirable candidate.
Surprisingly they aren’t interested in being employed in the United States, they want to continue
to work and live overseas. They recognized that having international experience is highly desired
by companies and businesses in Europe. While I think having international work and school
experience can certainly open otherwise unopened doors in this country I don’t think it is a
necessity to be successful. Given the political construct of the EU and the international economic
interactions that go on because of the close geographical proximity of countries in Europe, I
think demonstrating that you are capable of interacting with people of different cultures,
specifically with regards to the different ways they handle business, is a necessity for a candidate
entering the European job market. However, given our world’s progression towards
globalization, I predict that international experience will soon become a requirement for
Americans entering the American workforce as well.

References
Connecticut Business & Industry Association (2008). Availability of Skilled Workers in
Connecticut. [ONLINE] Available at:
http://www.hartfordinfo.org/issues/wsd/employment/SkilledWorkers_08.pdf. [Last
Accessed 1 February 2015].
Connecticut Business & Industry Association (2011). 2011 Survey of Connecticut's
Manufacturing Workforce . [ONLINE] Available at:
http://www5.cbia.com/newsroom/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Workforce_2011.pdf.
[Last Accessed 1 February 2015].
European Commission (2010). Employers’ perception of graduate employability. [ONLINE]
Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_304_en.pdf. [Last Accessed 1
February 2015].
OECD (2014). Education at a Glance 2014. [ONLINE] Available at:
http://www.oecd.org/edu/United%20States-EAG2014-Country-Note.pdf. [Last Accessed
e.g. 1 February 15].
Phi Delta Kappa International (2015). Americans favor using teacher evaluations to improve
teaching and dismiss ineffective teachers. [ONLINE] Available at:
http://pdkpoll.pdkintl.org/october/#6. [Last Accessed 1 February 2015].