Christopher J. Molnar


This dissertation offers a critique of current approaches to postsecondary vocational education. It concludes that the traditional apprenticeship and didactic model leads to inadequate preparation of students for independent thinking and problem solving. An alternative model is proposed that uses “democratic education” principles. These include student participation in curriculum selection, greater experiential opportunities, a mentoring relationship between students and instructors, community involvement, flexibility in scheduling, and critical thinking. The basis for this new model includes an analysis of the literature on public, vocational, and democratic education; reflections on several years of journals relating to the author’s transformative experience as a vocational educator; and student surveys and interviews with respect to demographics of the adult vocational student, study habits, time constraints, special education needs, learning disabilities, and learning styles.

Key words: democratic education, alternative education, vocational education, postsecondary vocational education, technical education.