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Traditionally both America and Europe segregated their schooling by class but in very different ways. In America technically all people had access to the same sort of schools that could lead to a higher education. Of course in practice certain school districts were very good, others very bad. In Europe on the other hand what you got was a three track system - university track, middle track, and apprenticeship track.  Admission to the top track was open to all, but some were more equal than others. Like everywhere in the world, the children of the well educated (and thus generally better off) were more likely to get into the university track high schools. Plus it was typical for borderline bourgeois students to get in while borderline working class kids were steered to lower tracks. And the wealthy and upper middle class used private schools as a fallback option if their kids were too dumb to get into public ones. The result - excellent quality public high schools open to all in theory, but mainly populated by the children of the bourgeoisie and a perpetuation of the class system.  Over the past couple decades there has been a shift, formal or de facto, to universal high school education. At the same time I've seen increasing complaints that schools in poor areas are worse quality than those in better off ones.
by MarekNYC on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 02:33:24 PM EST
I've kind of contemplated this here is Switzerland...but a certain number of kids either choose or are steered towards trades...and guess what? It can be a very good paying livelihood, with not a whole lot of stress...at least that's true here in Switzerland. I mean, a masters or a doctorate will get you work, but if you are a craftsman/woman, you will get good paying work too, in most European countries, anyway...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 03:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've often thought that wouldn't be a bad thing -- some kids just don't like academics that much.  Why not teach them the basics and then have some sort of trade option?

The other thing is how many jobs here require a BA.  Is a whole liberal arts education (while a lovely idea) really necessary to become an office manager?  One of my cousins in Britain went to nursing college.  At the same time, a friend of mine here wanted to be a nurse and spent half the time fuming about taking required maths and literature classes before she could even start training for her profession.  Not to mention the expense of all of that.  I was flabbergasted that my cousin could just go to school to learn nursing.  Valuing education is a good thing, but I think it devalues it when we have a bunch of people in college simply jumping hurdles to get to their goal.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 03:25:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Middle class snobbery.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 12:04:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, and you get accountability for the quality of craftsmanship through a clear structured apprentice/master curriculum, which is worth a lot.

In Germany being a blue-collar craftsman doesn't mean you are poor or belong to the lower middle class.
If you run your own company as a master craftsman, you can live very comfortable.

by mimi on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 08:43:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, master-craftsmen are pretty well paid here as well.  And I believe skilled tradesmen such as plumbers and electricians still make a nice living.  I have no idea how one gets into those trades, though.

When I was in school, if you weren't "academically inclined" they offered two vo-tech classes -- bricklaying and auto mechanics.  In the school district I live in, they currently offer welding and auto mechanics.  I believe there's also an off-campus computer networking class.  

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 11:02:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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