Vocational education and Bildung: a marriage or divorce?

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The notion of Bildung has been booming in several European
countries for almost twenty years now, but it has attracted
little attention in vocational education. One reason for this is
that Bildung, the process of becoming human as a goal in
itself, is understood in opposition to vocational education,
which task would be to qualify students for the labour market.
The goal of this article is to examine whether a marriage
is possible between Bildung and vocational education. This is
done by consulting and comparing the ideas of three
German thinkers: Von Humboldt’s classical view on Bildung
in the early 19th century, Spranger’s idea of Bildung through
vocations in the early 20th century, and Blankertz’ critical
pedagogy from the 1960s. The relevance of these accounts
for vocational education today is evaluated by considering
whether the authors enable us to think about Bildung and the
preparation for a job in a more integrated way. The three
accounts have their pros and cons, but Blankertz’ critical
approach seems most relevant. He accepts that vocational
schools prepare for specific jobs, but on the condition that
students learn to critically reflect on the kind of society they
will be living and working in.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Vocational Education & Training
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2021

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