Education: Vocational vs. Holistic

In the Keyword Essay “Education” there are many different ways that education is viewed. Two of these ways include a vocational education which is leading children into their futures as productive adults and a holistic education, also known as a liberal education which is defined as “nurturing children into, variously, adulthood, gentlemanly status, and/or citizenship”. When I read the definition for holistic education I interpreted it more as discovering your own identity and becoming your own individual self as an adult. In the American Girl story, ‘Kirsten Learns a Lesson’, the keyword education is represented through a rigid,uniform vocational view, while in the Nickelodeon show ‘Victorious’ education is represented through a more individual holistic view. 

In ‘Kirsten Learns a Lesson’ the idea of being a productive adult is to be the perfect, white American which means you must have manners, be able to read, speak proper english and to not act like the “savage Indians”. Miss Watson, Kirsten’s teacher repeatedly tells her students not to act like “savage Indians” throughout the text. To enforce that everyone should have proper manners she makes every kid come up and introduce themselves and they either bow or curtsy before her. When Kirsten, forgets to call her ma’am she corrects her. Miss Watson’s vocational teaching style is very uniform and rigid. She expects everyone to be on the same pace and level with their reading and writing. She does not make exceptions or special treatment to help Kirsten who is an immigrant and still does not speak English very well. She often scolds Kirsten when her reading and writing is not up to par. She tells her she should be more like her cousin Anna and that she does not believe she is really trying since she does not account for Kirsten’s language barrier. The primary goal of education in this story is to meet standards and conform to a mold. 

On the other hand, in the TV show ‘Victorious’, the main character Tori attends a school called Hollywood Arts, a school meant for talented teens in the performing arts fields. Education at Hollywood Arts, as one could imagine, is much less strict and uniform. Since every student there has a unique talent, their education system is more holistic to develop their individual talent, rather than trying to fit to a certain mold as seen with Miss Watson and Kirsten. Hollywood Arts offers a wide range of classes such as ballet and improv acting. The students also talk to their teacher Erwin much more casually than Miss Watson and her students. Unlike in ‘Kirsten Learns  a Lesson, the primary goal of education at Hollywood Arts is to figure out how their students can stand out and be their own individual. 

In the United States today most schools include both vocational and holistic education. I believe both are important and necessary. For vocational, it is important that jobs ranging from tradesman to doctors meet certain standards and that students meet basic standards understanding reading, writing, and math skills that they can use in everyday life. It is also important that children have some holistic education to develop their own sense of self and individuality. A good educational system will combine both and readily develop individuals to benefit society.

2 thoughts on “Education: Vocational vs. Holistic”

  1. I think it was a really interesting choice to compare “Kirsten Learns a Lesson” and Victorious. I think what Nickolodeon did with Victorious was smart in how they portrayed education because it is a show still centered around school, but allowing people to see schooling and education in a different way. I believe it is one of the only shows of its kind for our generation. Your take on a holistic education approach reminds me of Montessori school which some of my good friends have attended and sworn by its effectiveness.

  2. I thought it was really interesting to contrast Kirsten’s story to the stories in Victorious, and I definitely see your point about the absolutely different educational systems. In America, we do often get more of that vocational education in our elementary, middle, and high school careers and are exposed to more holistic education in college. I think it would benefit a lot of people if vocational and holistic education styles were integrated together into our educational lives before college so students are exposed to a lot of different experiences before even graduating high school.

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