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It is Vocation, Mr. President, Not Mere Education

Updated on August 29, 2012

The Inward Life

In the old days, growing up poor was not a perquisite to failure in life. Instead, it was that negative thought of oneself that was the defeating factor. But that was when opportunity abounded and everyone had a dream, and it was their dream, or vocation, that determined one’s success in life – not mere money or material needs. Financial concerns would take care of themselves when one had a vocation, and education instilled a confidence in children that if they “tried” and believed in themselves they would succeed in their vocation; and one must find their vocation if life itself would ever have meaning, joy, or emotional nourishment.

Education also taught through literature, arts and philosophy that “failure” or “successes” were relative terms in the scheme of things. In short, it was vocation, a philosophy of living that would get you through your darkest hours. It was also vocation that allowed all of us to withstand the toughest of challenges, endure the most menial tasks of a job in retail, perhaps, or maybe your first job cleaning toilets or hotel rooms, or flipping burgers at McDonalds – for these were just “jobs” that would sow the seeds of your own vocation because they shaped your character and your character would one day be an integral part of your vocation.

Vocation did not die, but it seems we as a people have forgotten it. To have vocation is everything, for if you have it in your head and heart it will always be a bit easier to tolerate those menial tasks, longs days and countless hours, even those dire circumstances that cursed you and emotionally crushed you when, as a child, you did not have a dream or belief in yourself. But what is vocation really? How does one know if they have it?

Vocation is not defined as simply a career or profession; it is an inner “calling,” talent, natural ability or inclination. It is an “inward” thing that the world can never take from you because it belongs to you only. No matter what others may say about your aspirations, it is only you who sets your limitations and your goals.

To have vocation requires the development of one’s own personality, the “self actualized” man” which today, as we all know too well, is an unpopular undertaking, precisely because vocation requires that one deviate from the herd. Little wonder then that since mankind’s earliest days on earth those with vocation were the legendary heroes of mankind.

Traditionally, education cultivated and nurtured vocation. It is a strange paradox then that today, however, education does not nurture emancipation from convention, or that abject disdain for convention; it has instead replaced vocation, with a new convention, and the idea of success an integral part of ones’ submission to convention. That is because the liberal teachers, who see themselves as the antithesis to convention and the status quo have, paradoxically, all gone the way of a new status quo called the “religion” of convention. Thus, they have created a new convention, where the individual – who treads the path of the unknown, the individual who in his aspirations is prepared to risk financial ruin – is assailed and ridiculed.

To be sure, we need opportunities to abound before we can dream or create, but notice, if you will that those leading us into this ditch of despair are a conventional lot. The government has become like “Nurse Ratchet” in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; they are the stiffs, the uncreative, the herd-like group personalities who want to control everything you do, and, sadly, would rather the whole country go to pieces than to see the one with vocation be content with his own creation and flourish in his of her own heaven. What brings offense to these souls is not wealth, not really; but possessing that lightness of being that is the Zen-like existence of the athlete, musician, or artist of any kind. Instead of correcting what is lacking in education, they are instead conditioning through education a conventional mindset that is set on a path of self destruction. All of it being done to be contrary to what was formerly superior, that thing we call the individual; simply to feel “power.”

It is Vocation, Mr. President, Not Mere Education that we should be nurturing and aspiring to in this country; but to do that we need non-political education for our children, many profiting small businesses and a flourishing of commercial pursuits. We need these things not for greed, not for haughty gain, but only that we can acquire vocation and our people can find their purpose and create some meaning under their sun.


Submit a Comment

  • cynthtggt profile imageAUTHOR

    Cynthia Taggart 

    6 years ago from New York, NY

    It is so true - and when they do go off to graduate school and later find themselves in a profession, it is as though they went through the motions of just being something with no real passion for it. I also am quite unhappy to see no music or art in high school. Thank you for your beautiful comment.

  • WD Curry 111 profile image

    WD Curry 111 

    6 years ago from Space Coast

    You are preaching to the choir. I was a vocation instructor at a mental health facility for adolescents for ten years. I am an artist, so I did things like sign and display that cover a wide range of disciplines and skills. I had an apprentice program for graphics and murals. We also did molding and casting of our own stone products. It was a huge success.

    Funny, academic teachers fought us on scheduling. They did not seem to grasp that vocational training is not exclusive of academics, and is important for developing trade skills, attitude and self worth.

    The sad thing . . . after they turn eighteen, the program is over. There is nothing for young adults in Florida.

  • cynthtggt profile imageAUTHOR

    Cynthia Taggart 

    6 years ago from New York, NY

    Yes, so true. I always am happy when I see kids majoring in English or something in the Liberal Arts because I believe it equips young ones with "emotional armor" and conditions them to "think" and be creative outside society's dictates. I continually see a hunger for this kind of education in kids, one of whom I am acquainted with at our local food market. Although she hates her job, she is happy pursuing what she loves and as a result she is always happy and great with people - and these two qualities we know are better to possess in the personality than any skill because doors always open somewhere in places never dreamed of for people like her.

  • nightcrawler123 profile image


    6 years ago

    You would be interested in Sir Ken Robinson's talks on YouTube or on the TED website. He says much of the same thing. We educate children in a fast-food, standardized-test, cookie-cutter way instead of teaching them to think and preparing them for a future world that we haven't yet experienced. Education should lead to vocation. I love this hub! - Free Videos and Ebooks For Teachers

  • cynthtggt profile imageAUTHOR

    Cynthia Taggart 

    6 years ago from New York, NY

    I see you are a writer and into a variety of things. I look foward to reading your hub too. I am sure to follow. Thanks for your comments.

  • cynthtggt profile imageAUTHOR

    Cynthia Taggart 

    6 years ago from New York, NY

    Thank you for your comment. I have always lived following my dreams - which is probably the reason I am unemployed at present (hopefully not forever) - however, I always see so many who do not like what they do. Thanks again for your comment.

  • RTalloni profile image


    6 years ago from the short journey

    So interesting and thought provoking--much food for thought here. Thanks for the pause for thought on vocation as opposed to mere education.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 

    6 years ago from Planet Earth

    This is an excellent dialogue on the purpose of education in our society - very well done! I agree completely with what you're saying here. We focus on the degree but not on the big picture.

    Welcome to HubPages - I look forward to reading more of your hubs!

    Voted up, useful, interesting and SHARED with my followers.


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