A New Educational Standard

This post is in response to a fellow blogger.

This blogger has a rather genius idea to offer certifications (not unlike a Journeyman’s license) in all fields of expertise… a general sort of “life experience degree”.

I love the idea. But I also see a hiccup with it… or perhaps a separate implication entirely…

This blogger suggests, at least implicitly, that what matters is not the degree itself, but the experience, expertise, and general abilities one possess.  And, if life and the professional world is any indication, this mentality is how it truly is in practice.

But we have no degree or certification to reflect that fact.  In fact, most students dump all knowledge after an exam anyway, and they leave college with a degree in hand, knowing little more than they did when they began.  So, all that work and for what? There is no real worth in it except for the help it gives you in getting hired.

Is a lifetimes experience and the utmost of skills really worth so little?  Shouldnt it count for something, already?  I dont see why a certain number of accumulated years in a job field, with a good reputation all the while for performance, shouldnt earn you more credit than just a good reference or two.

Isnt the point of a degree program to assess and prepare one for those same experiences and skill sets? Except a degree is worse in some ways – it doesnt verify or provide anyone with practical experience (but it often times make someone look better than they are, compared other prospects).

Often times, the education you get in a college has little to nothing to do with what you will be using and needing to know in practice… the college education is broader and less specific.  Whereas a college degree might look good and qualify you for a wide variety of jobs, it ought not be the end all and be all of any one particular job opening.  A particular job requires a particular skill set, and those with the experience, proven by a certification, should have preferential treatment.

I think people should be retested for their degrees years after the fact.  I think they should have to verify they still have the same knowledge their degree purports that they have.  If they dont pass, that is fine.  They should lose their degree… or perhaps not.  Perhaps they should simply not earn a verification check, which should look bad in its own right.  Perhaps they can trade in their degree for a life experience certificate, if that is more practical for them.

Oh, wouldnt this just work?!?! I certainly think so…

Students would start to take school more seriously. They will start to view school as a source of knolwedge acquisition, not just a place to buy a degree for better job opportunities. (See Criticisms of American Academia and the American Student)

Think about it. A school in a world where students actually chose to learn, and not just chose to “attend”.  Fewer people will waste their time on degrees if they knew they couldnt learn anyway.  The educational standard will drop (by that I mean fewer meaningless degrees), and job opportunities and employment might actually go up (refer to my prior post The Economic Detriment of an Education).

In fact, fewer people will feel obliged to crowd schools if they had minor work-force specific training and Experience Certifications offered instead.

Those students who actually do graduate from a school with a real degree will be fewer, for they not only know the material but they are willing to go through the motions of re-verification… and if they do, that is actually saying something.  They are actually worth something and will likely be on the front lines of societies progressive endeavors.  If people actually knew they could lose their paper, they might actually care more, themselves.

And what of high school?  Should we do the same?  Where is the High School Verification Certificate?  I think anyone who graduated from high school with a diploma or GED should be offered the opportunity to acquire (no less than ten years after their graduation) a high school verification certificate.  They can attend a community college or high school for a few tests, maybe a cheap class or two, and reassert that they still know high school material.

Should they fail the recertification testing, their high school diploma will not be revoked, but employers will wonder why this individual cannot meet the intellectual standards of high school ten years down the line.

Are you smarter than a fifth grader? If only it mattered to someone.  But we all know no one gives a rats tush in our society about actual education.  “Geek” is a derrogatory word. Diploma and certification and degree is all that people look at or care for. Which is fine for an employer, but academia should ensure that these pieces of paper they hand out like candy actually mean something.  That these pieces of paper actually continue to mean the same thing ten years after graduation as they did the day of.

It is the schools reputation as an educational institution on the line, after all.  If the degree is worthless for what it represents (and not the economic worth) then the school is worthless.  I think with graduation comes the responsibility to maintain the knowledge base – or else using your degree to self-benefit is a bold faced lie.

Yes, diplomas and certifications and degrees should be revoked.  Experience matters and Experience Degrees should be offered.  This thought is nothing short than actually holding people to an intellectual standard, continually assessing their worthiness for the qualifications they flaunt.

Anyone who mocks or discredits this idea is placing more emphasis on having a degree than on having what a degree represents. Such criticisms do not debunk the point of the idea and only reinforce the failings of our society. I see no real argument against this idea, except maybe in the practicality of its implementation.



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