JITE v39n1 - The 1980s

Volume 39, Number 1
Fall 2001

The 1980s

Frank C. Pratzner
The Ohio State University

No set of educational issues or themes dominated the decade of the 1980s more than those of workplace change and educational reform, and no single event captured the essence of many of these issues and concerns as well as the 1983 publication of the report A Nation at Risk. This report rocked the nation and the educational community with its assessment of the dire state of education and the urgent need for major reform. The total volume of education reform-related policy, legislation, literature, and debate during the 1980s was truly amazing; and it was clearly reflected in the content of the Journal during the decade.

This is not to say that these were the only pressing themes during the decade, or that these themes neatly fit within only this single decade. For example, a review of the Journal's articles for the decade also suggests that student and program assessment and accountability were strong themes, as were vocational and industrial teacher and administrator preparation, and research and development methodology.

Clearly, however, numerous articles, "At Issue," "Comments," and "Under Review" pieces touched on workplace and educational reform and implications for vocational and industrial education. Two special issues of the Journal (Volume 23, Number 1 and Volume 26, Number 2) were devoted to an extended consideration of workplace change and other challenges to vocational and industrial education reforms.

"The Role of Vocational Studies and Training in General-Liberal Schooling," by Angelo C. Gilli, Sr. (1984), was originally published in Volume 21, Number 3 of the Journal. Seventeen years after its publication, the manuscript still seems to reflect many of the educational reform issues and concerns of vocational and industrial educators dealing with increased emphasis on a liberal-general education. Gilli based his remarks on The Paideia Proposal by Adler (1982), a text that provided views on public liberal-general education. Gilli examined, step-by-step, Adler's rationale for providing a liberal education as the public school's course of study. Gilli also discussed the demands placed on vocational teachers due to pressures on the school curriculum to de-emphasize vocational studies and to focus instead on liberal-general education. His recommendations, in many cases, could have been proposed 17 days ago instead of 17 years ago.

Gilli's insights still seem to reflect many of the reform issues and concerns of the decade in a fresh and provocative way. It is recommended for yet another read by anyone concerned about the nature and direction of vocational and industrial education at the start of the 21st century.

Pratzner is Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University. He served as editor of the Journal from 1992-1994.
Tracy Gilmore