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Finding one’s place in life: The phrase that serves as the base for the posts around community cohesion

By Joanna Kats

It is the middle of the summer, when the smell of nature penetrates the city and the sun forgets to set. It is time to present the base for the posts to appear here, around community education, and so briefly introduce my doctoral research.

Longing for a stable and secure place 

The research study begins with the phrase “Finding one’s place in life,” a phrase which unravels personal concerns common for those who have a double or multicultural identity. Those who understand to belong nowhere and everywhere would long for a stable and secure place. It so happens that young people who choose vocational education as their pathway to the world of adults share a similar worry, when they struggle to balance education and apprenticeship.

A place in the labour market and society

The research theme concerns the relation between vocational education and social cohesion, in times of economic crisis, in Greece and in England. Two questions deeply concern me. The first, how vocational education is envisaged to support vocational students to find their place in the labour market (as an aspect of the economy); the second, how it is envisaged to support their inclusion in society (as distinct from the labour market).

A solid theoretical framework needs to be utilised, to answer any research questions. The framework of personal interest is defined by two concepts:

  • Human capital; the qualifications and merits obtained by each individual through education and learning, useful for finding and retaining a job.
  • Social capital; the skills each individual needs to develop a strong sense of self, create social ties and contribute to the progress of the society that surrounds them.

The answers derive from the study of two sources of evidence: the first covers selected education policy documents and the second, interviews with vocational teachers-lecturers. When conducting research, you would dig into the various different opinions expressed, embedding within a personal truth. You would keep a distance to better understand what others are trying to share with you and what you really want to learn.

Acceptance and belonging to the detriment of excellence

What has impressed me the most is that in both Greece and England, vocational education is envisaged to foster social cohesion by assisting its students in the development of a sense of acceptance and belonging possibly to the detriment of excellence. It is interesting to learn that vocational students are perceived to have a great need for acceptance and validation. And this need may become intense and leave them indifferent to the prospect of achieving a distinguished professional career.

I wonder how any individual could find their place in life when the boundaries they set and the frameworks they choose limit the quest for their place and the discovery of true self.

This is the place to share similar interesting issues. Issues pertinent to community education – education supporting communities to develop, and third culture kids – kids raised and educated between two different cultures.

Have a creative week!

A blogger friend, Joanna

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