Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On Teachers, certification and tests

Jeez, I hate going from tangent to tangent but I was about to. On my last post about Tag Clouds, just as I started talking about the teachers cheating , I recalled a conversation I had this holiday season with a couple who are in the academic world and was amazed when they expressed outrage (yes, it was real outrage and incredulity) that a teacher had to pass a test to become a professor at a university, to gain a higher position. The conversion went so far as to even suggest that competitions for government positions was "beneath" someone who had gotten to a certain point and a certain age.

(ok - have you stopped laughing at this yet? Because it's true).

I used the opportunity to drop in the obligatory Doonesbury ID joke because it's based on the same premise - if things don't grow, learn or evolve, then yes, I agree - it only needs to be tested once but since things DO grow, learn, mutate or whatever, then YES, test early and test often, I say.

Small businesses may choose a database programmer, or a web designer based on their reputation or a portfolio of their past work but at some point, you will be competing with someone for a job. It's a ......test. Certification is a way to help bypass all of those tests so you're dealing with everyone at a similar level. And no, it's not perfect (think of the drivers who really shouldn't have passed their driving test) but it's a start.

I recently took an online MS Academy course. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Not by the course, mind you but by the topic. There are certainly ways the course could be improved ( a topic for another post) . The topic looked very interesting but by the end of the course, I think everyone would agree that the technology involved was immature (or the tools involved were just not there yet) - to be used in a real business or complete software solution. But still, it was a technology to be learned about - which was great.

Only an industry that has not changed in 100 years would not benefit from recurrent training - and even then, even if the industry or technology did not change, the sad fact is, PEOPLE change. (people learn more, people forget more, peope grow) In the aviation industry, recurrent training is a requirement. In the software industry, where some look at development as art and others as science, certification is still there. And while there are some cases of people who were not "trained" in a particular field being able to teach things and revolutionize an industry, most fields require people who are able to prove their ability. So why wouldn't teachers believe this?

And just as one would be frightened to think that a doctor who operated on me suffered from a debilitating disease, there may be teachers who are on education's front lines who don't feel they should have to prove they are capable of learning themselves.

Are there other teachers that believe that they are beyond recurrent training?

The mind boggles at the thought.

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