QUESTIONS FREQUENTLY ASKED  ABOUT IVE

People want to know what IVE League is all about, and we have been asked a lot of questions about what we do and why what we do is important. Here is a list of the 22 questions we have been asked most often over the past several years.

Have a question you would like us to answer? Send an e-mail to (opinions@iveleague.org) or snail-mail us a letter at P. O. Box 621706, Orangevale CA 95662-1706.

This document provides a quick-access Table of Contents. To find the answer to a specific question, click on the asterisk at the end of its listing in the table. Then, to return to the Table of Contents, click on the "Back" button on your browser.

1. "What do you mean by Integrated Vocational Education?" *

2. "Don't we already have vocational education?" *

3. "Are you saying that teachers aren't doing their jobs?" *

4. "In simple terms, what do you mean by Integrated Vocational Education?" *

5. "Is this some kind of apprenticeship program?" *

6. "Briefly now, and in common language, how does Integrated Vocational Education work?" *

7. "You talk about "Education that Goes to Work!" What do you mean by that?" *

8. "How does IVE differ from today's typical American public education environment?" *

9. "How does IVE differ from Dual Track education in today's schools?" *

10. "Can you give us an example of how Integrated Vocational Education is different from other teaching concepts?" *

11. "Are you trying to eliminate the requirement that teachers be academically trained?" *

12. "Doesn't this kind of learning take longer ... and cost more?" *

13. "Is there anything else that's different about Integrated Vocational Education?" *

14. "Why is Integrated Vocational Education a better way to teach?" *

15. "Will the approach to Integrated Vocational Education change as a result of what you observe?" *

16. "Why should I support your program instead of some other worthy cause?" *

17. "Do students need anything special to succeed in Integrated Vocational Education courses?" *

18. "How does Integrated Vocational Education deal with Special Needs Education programs?" *

19. "Who is behind the Integrated Vocational Education program?" *

20. "Who pays the bills for all this work?" *

21. "What do you want from me?" *

22. "If I send you a check, do you go away?" *

 


Integrated Vocational Education: is a formal learning process with the goal of preparing individual students to fill a variety of active, productive positions in contemporary commercial, industrial or social environments. IVE is a single curriculum which includes all of the elements of:

As an example: In an IVE League classroom, an individual studying carpentry is also instructed in advanced mathematics (Algebra and Geometry), structural loading and stress (Physics), Business Management (Project Cost and Scheduling), Team working, Work-social interactions, and self esteem through understanding the criticality of carpentry in maintaining modern economic and social structures.

As a non-example: In contrast, the student in a "normal" public education environment is expected to study carpentry as a "trade" course, often taught by teachers with working skills in the field and often demeaned as being a curriculum for students who can't "make it" in an academic environment. Alternatively, they will study Algebra, Geometry, and Mechanical Physics as classroom-oriented subjects with little or no education in the hands-on practice of these "theoretical" subjects.

Let me start by pointing out that Integrated Vocational Education is not the same as Vocational Education. IVE is a strong intermixture of academic subject material taught from the perspective of its real-world applications. In a vocational environment, students are often taught ways of doing things without any explanation of why it is being done or how it works. In the same way, an academic student is taught that "A squared plus B squared equals C squared" but the practical application of squaring a foundation or making sure a wall is vertical is often omitted.

In the midst of all this stands IVE, which teaches the 3-4-5 rule of the builder, or the cartographer (mapmaker) and then shows how that same rule can apply to surveying, navigation, or astronomy. There are thousands of these examples--all helping the student want to learn by showing the relevance of every lesson.

No! To the contrary. I am a teacher, and I will never cease to be amazed at how successful most teachers are in doing their jobs given the circumstances and tools with they work. The problem is not the teachers, but in the system which is biased toward only three of the seven major learning styles.

In the simplest terms, IVE is a mixture of Academic and Career-oriented skills within the came classroom and curriculum. Its intent is to prepare students for further education in any environment and give them employable skills which enable them to secure career-level employment upon their graduation from high school. IVE not only teaches students advanced skills in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and living in a social environment--it teaches students the reasons these skills are an important element in achieving a full, rewarding life.

The answer to this question is a simple "yes and no." Yes, in that it teaches students applicable working skills through hands-on practice. No, in that it also teaches the theory--often deep theory--which underlies these skills. IVE teaches the skills of the plumber along with the geology and physics of the hydrologist. IVE teaches Algebra through the skills required to calculate electrical power loads for each circuit in a panel and for all the panels in a major construction project.

Current labor statistics tell us the average worker will likely change careers as many as seven times in his or her working lifetime. The successful worker will be the one who is most adaptable to change and most capable of learning and applying new skills quickly. The underlying purpose of IVE is to graduate students with all their options open and the ability to understand both theory and application with equal facility.

Integrated Vocational Education, or IVE as we refer to it, is an educational concept which combines the strength of both Academic and Vocational (career-based) education. This forms a single curriculum in which students acquire both skills at the same time and in the same lessons. It is designed as a progressive six-year program which begins in the seventh grade and carries on through high school. The six-year program is loosely divided into three levels which are based on the kind of career orientation the student in which the student is involved.

In middle school, students are taught in "workshops" and "laboratories" with course materials presented in "experiments." In every case, they are encouraged to work in the way they find most comfortable--alone or in groups, sitting at desks or on couches; even laying on the floor if it works for them. The Learning Laboratories (classrooms) are arranged so this is possible with a minimum of disturbance between groups. On the vocational side, the middle school IVE students will be allowed to select between 30 and 60 workshops (in reality, career path familiarization exercises selected one-at-a-time from a list of about 140) on which they may work during special "Exploring the World Around Us" sessions which are built into the curriculum. These are functional classes in the sciences, citizenship, physical education, personal management, and other topics which all contain an element of career exploration.

In the first two years of high school, each student is allowed to select between 6 and 12 career paths (from a grouping of more than 40) in which they will work hands-on from five to ten hours a week. Once again, these will be diversified and will contain strong academic components--a drafting class, for example, might also instruct in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, chemistry, and physics, and gross anatomy. Each class will also have a field-trip component whenever and wherever it is feasible, to allow the students to observe professionals in that career path at work. The last six-week session will be devoted to job-search skills including preparation of resumes and development of interview skills.

In the final two years of high school, students will be placed into appropriate paid positions in two to four different career paths and working environments of their choosing through workplace partnerships with local businesses. The requirements to remain in this program are satisfactory achievement in their "academic" glass work and satisfactory reviews from their employers and the school's work/study coordinator. The only restrictions in this program is that the students are not exposed to hazardous working environments and are not allowed to be employed in family-operated businesses.

When a student graduates from an IVE program, he or she has been exposed to as many as 60 possible career paths and knows what the requirements are for each, has had the opportunity to function hands-on in up to a dozen working environments, and has gained practical on-the-job experience in up to four. One of the agreements among the business partners, the schools, and the students is that full-time employment will be available to students with a satisfactory work record at the time they graduate. In many respects, this program is not unlike the joint apprenticeship training programs active in many parts of the world. The only difference is that IVE students are allowed to begin working at 16.

There is a lot more to be said about each of these areas, but this should give you some idea of how IVE works.

Once you start to read this reply, please finish it. The tone starts out sounding negative, but understand that we feel the Education community is doing a remarkable job functioning in extremely unsettled times. The news keeps telling us about the "failures" of education--like a 30 percent drop-out rate. But they never seem to point out this means that there is a 70 percent "success" rate.

Far from being anti-"today"-education, we applaud it. The real problem, and there is a problem, is the mindset which says average students cannot function successfully in combined academic-vocational learning environments.

The IVE concept acknowledges the need for a "global citizen"--which we all are--to be a lifelong learner. The difference is that we believe that motivating students to want to learn is the key. There are growing concerns, especially in the United States, which sees the primary purpose of most modern education systems as being preparation of students for more and more education; this at the expense of their preparation to function in their employment environment--especially in the global economy of the 21st century.

This may or may not be true, but even if it is, it can change. All we have to do is recognize that college may not be part of an individual's chosen career path at the moment and that it may or may not become part of it a sometime in the future. This means that students--and have the right to demand of the schools--the basic foundation of both learning and working skills necessary to enter directly into the 21st century work force or continue in formal education--at their option.

The final goal of Integrated Vocational Education is to do exactly that--to enable the individual student to make whatever career decisions and follow whatever path he or she chooses. Different cultures and differing local economic factors may, of course, impose other limitations, but individuals and their minds are the ultimate transportable commodity in today's world. It should be incumbent on Education to prepare those minds for any location of their choosing in our global village.

8. "How does IVE differ from today's typical American public education environment?"

In a typical American Public Education environment, schools are where teachers go to teach. The emphasis is on teaching skills and segregated subject matter. The relationship between student and teacher is that one presents the material which the other is expected to "learn" enough to pass a series of educator-structured tests. Parents are expected to provide the students and reinforce the system, the whole community is expected to provide the financial support, and the business community is expected to employ the "product" of the educational "plants."

IVE, on the other hand, concentrates on learning skills. The emphasis is that schools are where students go to learn. And the focus is on the idea that every benefiting entity should, within broad standardized guidelines, have input into what is being taught and how it is being taught. Equally important, however, is how levels of achievement are tested, evaluated, and accepted by the community.

In Dual Track education, the student is channeled into either an academic or a vocational track with significant differences in the two curricula. For example the academic track is required to learn a foreign language and achieve proficiency in advanced mathematics while the vocational track requires several types of "shop" training and, often, some work experience for which the academic schedule does not provide either time or credit. And note that, In the vernacular of academia, the Academic student is "taught" while the Vocational student is "trained."

In Integrated Vocational Education, on the other hand, all students work in the same practice-based curriculum. There may be electives within the course work but the material in a specific course--"Living In the Global Village" for example--will be the same for everybody.

The major difference is that IVE is a learning theory rather than a teaching theory. IVE Padagogy uses problem-solving approaches to learning rather than the didactic approaches in typical academic environments. The didactic approach to a problem might simply ask "how much is 81 divided by nine?" Another approach to this problem might be to ask how many nines there are in eighty-one. In the IVE approach, a series of problems might be presented illustrating how the answer is arrived at and why it might be important; but you learn more that just "the answer."

Here, the question might be "You have to attach a plywood patch to the hull of a boat. The patch is exactly 83 inches on each side. If you assume that the screws are one inch from the edge of the patch, how many screws will you need if your need to have exactly nine inches (on center) between the screws."

The correct answer to the problem is, of course, 36 -- which leads us into the didactic "multiplication tables". Another problem might be how many 1" x 6" boards are necessary to build a certain length of fence (allow 1/16" space between the pickets), or how many bricks will it take to lay out a walkway (allow 1/4" on each side of each brick for grouting). The result is that the student learns to calculate the requirements, but also learns that a finished 1" x 6" board is actually 3/4" x 5"-3/4".

The ultimate difference is that the students are finally encouraged to work as groups and to verify their answers in real world, hands-on exercises. The question of the brick walk, for example, might be answered by building such a walk as a community service project for a local park.

Not by any stretch of the imagination! Actually, in most geographic areas of this country, a credentialed Vocational Teacher is also "academically" trained. If there is a major difference it is that in most academic environments, work experience is not considered applicable for college credit working toward anything other than a Vocational credential. In California, as in several other states, there is a program that will allow up to 30 units of college credit toward a specialized Bachelors of Vocational Education degree, (BVE) but these units still are not transferable to any other program, including training in a traditional teacher training curriculum.

In IVE, the teacher takes on the role of a guide, mentor, or facilitator. Relevance and applicability are the key factors. There is no such thing as "because that's the way it is" in IVE. Students are encouraged to use every one of their learning modalities (learning intelligences) to gather and retain knowledge. As a result, students not only learn a subject; they also learn how it relates to everything else. As an example, before you look at a map or globe, write down which city you think is farther north, Tokyo Japan or San Francisco California. Now look at some maps to plot a straight-line course between the two cities.

Were you surprised.

Not in the final analysis. The only reason it appears to take longer is that there are many skills being learned and integrated at the same time. But if you tried to teach map reading, planetary geography, and navigational mathematics in three separate curriculum, it might take three hours as opposed to a two-hour IVE exercise.

As far as cost? Setting up an IVE classroom (a learning laboratory) is a little different than simply buying 48 identical desks. Special attention, for example, has to be paid to placement of dividers, bookshelves, and file cabinets. But once that time and money have been invested, durability of equipment can be expected to decrease maintenance costs and students (it has been shown) take better care of their more-comfortable learning environment.

There are also some hidden economic concerns of, or more accurately economic benefits to, the school's supporting community. We feel; these are important enough to also be addressed in the answer to one of the later questions.

But in the meantime, here are two questions and statistics you might want to consider.

  • Are you upset about the cost for each student to receive a basic education (through high school) in American public schools! Then recognize that it costs society more to maintain an individual on welfare (not to mention the loss in human potential) than it does to send him or her through Harvard or Stanford.
  • We, as a society, regularly spend almost three times more to keep an individual in prison--and nearly ten times to keep that same individual on death row--than we spend to educate him or her.

Now, which would you say costs more, education or ignorance?

Almost everything about an IVE curriculum is different. IVE-style texts are intended to be small, inexpensive, and designed (much like today's "workbooks") to be kept by the student. But the major difference lies in the focus of IVE-style learning. In the traditional environment, teachers teach and students are expected to learn. In IVE, students are motivated to learn and teachers are there to help them. This may sound like we are playing with words, but we are not. This shift in point of view drives everything in the system. It changes the student from a passive receiver to an active participant in the learning process.

This idea also redefines the term teacher to mean something more like a manager of an education environment, and allows those managers to make use of all the resources at their disposal. Two such resources, which are all-too-seldom used in contemporary classrooms, are the concepts of learning teams and peer-tutors.

Whether it is a better way to teach is not the issue. IVE is a better way to learn. According to Educational Psychologist Howard Gardner, human beings have seven primary ways (or modalities) in which they learn. He refers to them as "Learning Intelligences." Current educational practices concentrate on only two of these--the verbal-linguistic (VL) (people who learn by reading and/or listening) and the mathematical-logical (ML) (people who learn a subject through a succession of steps, each of which is based on steps previously mastered). The other five, and most especially the tactile-kinesthetic (TK) learner (people who learn through experimentation and practice), often are not educationally successful in this kind of environment.

Both the IVE curriculum and the IVE classroom are designed to reach out to as many of the seven as possible. The classroom, for example, may be divided into four areas so students who learn better by discussing a subject with others (interpersonal learners) can work together while those who work best alone (intrapersonal learners . . . which usually include the VL and ML types) can have their "quiet corner" and the TK's are free to move about (within limits) and "feel" whatever it is they might be studying.

There are some other fundamental differences as well, like developing working partnerships between schools and business; something which has proven exceptionally beneficial in every area it has been properly implemented. Another is the teacher credentialing process which, in most states, requires a four-year college degree plus additional teacher training to obtain a clear credential and allows college-graduated teachers to teach any subject (including vocational education) while restricting vocational teachers to "non-academic" classes. In other words, an English major can teach Machine Shop but a non-degreed professional writer cannot teach Business English--regardless of their qualifications. There is an understandable need for teacher training (note the use of the word which denotes that an individual cannot learn to teach by reading books and listening to lectures). Teaching is a learned skill, and we would be opposed to having untrained or unqualified teachers in any classroom.

Of course it will. IVE is a dynamic program, it will never be completely finished because it is designed to respond to changing needs of the students and the communities in which they live--whether that community is a small town, a major urban environment, or the global economy of the next century. The only element that will not change is the fundamental requirement that IVE programs provide an education which enables students to follow any career choices they select.

Because we represent you and the changes you want to see in contemporary public education. We have decided to work in the general public arena (as opposed to the politically-controlled systems) for several reasons. The first of these is that we--as parents, teachers, administrators, business people--recognize there is no better investment in our nation's future (and therefor in our own future) than a strong, effective, and consistently applied education system.

For the past thirty years we have concentrated on educating two generations of college-bound students, seemingly ignoring the fact that college is not the preferred educational goal of more than 70 percent of the population. So while we have seen the cost of education rise steadily, we have seen it seemingly less and less able to motivate and hold the average student. More tragic, however, is that in our efforts to educate everybody, we seem to be losing the high-end student at almost the same rate as the low-end student. We are seeing drop-out rates (the numbers of students who do not graduate within the same cohort they began their education) of fifty percent and higher in many areas. And most educators seem not to recognize or are choosing to ignore the reason for this escalation--the students simply are not motivated.

As a result we are also seeing a rise in welfare dependency, a rise in crime statistics, a rise in unwed and teen-age pregnancies, and a rise in single-parent families.

Here are two statistics you might want to consider.

  • It costs society more to maintain an individual on welfare that it does to send them through Harvard or Stanford.
  • We regularly spend almost three times more to keep an individual in prison that we spend to educate him or her.

Now, is there any more worthwhile or important program than one which has even the potential of motivating students to stay in school.

When completed, the IVE program will span the seventh through twelfth grades--middle school through high school--so we would expect the student to have successfully completed the fifth grade. But the IVE program is designed in such a way as to have a certain amount of remediation built in to it so previous levels of accomplishment in a traditional environment are not any measure of anticipated IVE performance. At a minimum, however, the student should be able to read and write the or her native language (at the present time, all materials are being prepared in English) and have a fundamental ability in math.

Special needs students will always have special needs. IVE will not change that reality. But the techniques which improve general education--like peer teaming, conflict resolution, and group leadership training should be effective in many special education environments as well. Moreover, with an understanding of multiple intelligences and neuro-linguistic techniques that is part of the IVE program, teachers should find it easier and more comfortable to work with students which, up to now, have been identified as "problem" students.

The driving force behind the IVE League is Founder and Executive Director Donald E. Werve, Jr., M.Ed. He founded the parent corporation of  IVE League in 1984 and started actual development and refinement of the IVE concept in about 1991; not so much as a broad education reform as to find out what could be done to answer some of the critics of American Public Education. As part of this research, he recruited small groups of teachers, school administrators, community business owners and managers, working parents, and students to answer three questions:

  1. What do you feel are the most important functions of a public education system?
  2. Are you satisfied that today's public education system is performing those functions?
  3. If you think changes are necessary, how would you like to see the system change?

He originally intended to use the answers he received to create several articles on public impressions of American education. But the answers they found demanded more!

The same people who are paying the bills right now--which means you and me! But these bills are not in addition to what we are already paying. IVE is not something else added on. It is a different way of doing what public education is already trying to do: We live in an educated society. IVE is not a "bill" for some expense that will never end. It is an opportunity to make an investment in the future of American education; one that will provide a greater benefit than the money we are already spending.

Insofar as the development costs, most of those costs have been covered up to now by out-of-pocket expenditures of the people who have worked on the development. There have also been individual and corporate supporters, but our operating budget has never exceeded $5,000 in any given year. That, however, will change as IVE development moves to the next most logical stage--the development of a charter school that is run using IVE learning concepts and materials..

So as a second answer to your question, we are hoping the answer will become "Everybody. You, your friends, neighbors, and business associates." We are hoping you believe, as we obviously do, that Integrated Vocational Education is an answer to the needs of 21st century students--worldwide! We invite you to become a member of the organization or, at the very least. take out your wallet, purse, or checkbook and make your contribution to the future.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, we are not much different in out needs than many other broad societal endeavors. Continuing development of a program like IVE needs three things: People. Time, and Money.

PEOPLE: Who are willing to invest some of their extremely valuable "spare time" working with us. We need people to ask questions and to answer questions. We need people to spread the word about IVE. We need teachers willing to take the time to understand the process--which involves a little more than just learning about it. We need parents who are willing to work with their students, in some cases to actually learn with their children like one man who inspired his daughter to finish high school by returning to finish high school himself.  They graduated from high school together, by the way, in June of 1996.

TIME: It may take one man six months to build a barn, but if you have ever been to an old-fashioned barn raising in the mid-western United States you have seen how as many as 100 people can build that same barn in a single day (plus another day or two for the paint to dry). Building the IVE program will, obviously, take longer than a day but the more people we have that will lend their particular expertise to the program the faster it will be ready for your children and your students to benefit from it. 

MONEY: We are doing out best to develop IVE outside of a traditional education arena--one dominated by tax dollars and academic credentials (although we pay our share of the former and have our share of the latter in the development group). It is a fact of doing business that whoever writes the paychecks makes the rules. And if a University Department or Government Agency takes over, we become just one more voice in the din of the marketplace. If we are to truly maintain this academic freedom, we need your independent financial support, and that of your friends and neighbors.

No. Once you become a supporting member, we keep you posted on what your money is doing; always with the understanding that you are welcome to step in and help in other ways and that you, as a person, and are more valuable than your checkbook. Your input and opinions are always welcome because that is how the program grows and changes to meet your needs. Money is only a consumable commodity--a non-renewing resource. We also need you to be our eyes and ears for the communities in which you live.

But send that check anyway. It can never replace you, but it can help us find a substitute with a little more time, or perhaps expertise in another field, so we can write another focus text, add another on-line tutor, help this international crossroads for information on Integrated Vocational Education fulfill it's dynamic, ever-growing promise.