For a considerable period, vocational school students were more likely to be seen as “problematic students,” and the accompanying family and societal issues further increased the responsibility of vocational education.
In this context, while developing skills is undoubtedly important, it is not the entirety of vocational education.
In the office of Principal Yang Zhenli, a practitioner who has worked in the chemical institute for nearly 40 years, the concern goes beyond skill development; more often, the focus is on educating individuals.
He believes that the value of vocational colleges is reflected in a larger scale of cultivation, a more standardized process, and more disciplined behavior. Discipline refers to developing good habits.
In fact, many parents either lack the time or are unable to effectively supervise their children, so they send them here after hearing that it is strict. This original intention implies that for these fourteen or fifteen-year-old adolescents, developing good habits is just as important as learning skills.
Many times, children do not understand the significance of habits. During evening study sessions, several students complained about the hardships of waking up at 6 a.m. every morning for exercise, as they weren’t getting enough sleep.
Yang Zhenli explained his consideration. Besides promoting physical fitness, he had another purpose: “By getting the children up early to exercise, they must eat breakfast, so they won’t skip it and be late for class. That’s the worst scenario.” The students’ greatest obstacle is not the morning exercise but rather the tempting distractions of mobile phones.
The goal of education is not solely to instill good habits.
Vocational colleges have a unique management characteristic: students manage the campus, and students manage other students. At Henan Chemical Institute, this specifically refers to the “Rainbow Vests.” The school has eight or nine student teams, each addressing different management issues, identified by different colored vests.