Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How much do Credentials Matter?

So, I guess I've been sleeping or something, but apparently Jon Stewart has been shaking the tree again. This time calling out the Republicans on their filibustering of a bill to help 9/11 first responders. Now, I don't want to ge all political here. What I want to address is a passing quote I heard on the the news.

Stewart has been called a journalist by some, but on the news report that I heard only in passing a professor (not sure who, or from where) said Stewart is not a journalist. When asked what it took to be a journalist, he responded that journalistic training was required. He did not talk about what a journalist does, only how they are trained. So in a sense, you can only be a journalist if you went to school to become one. I wasn't aware that there was any sort of journalist certification.

How many jobs today are ones that our students could do in the future without any formal training. There is this great wealth of material available on the net totally for free. I could take computer programming classes from universities such as Stanford or MIT just by downloading them. I could get 90% of the benefit of those courses without leaving my house. So, what do credentials really tell us today?

They seem to tell us only that the holder of them spent the money required to get them. They also tell us that these people ostensibly took the courses and got the training. Now, if we put them next to a really motivated person who went to all the trouble to learn the material themselves... Personally, if I was running a company I'd rather hire the person who trained themselves to do the job. But, how does someone demonstrate they have the skills?

Well, I suppose you start to do the job you want, but do it for free. The web today really makes this a possibility. Want to be a journalist? Start a blog. Want to be a film maker? Make some films and put them on YouTube. Want to be a musician? Do what JoCo did. Want to be a computer programmer? Write some code and release it on the net. The web today is an amazing platform that can allow the best to rise to the top. All you really need is to be good and be willing to work for free for awhile. What better time to do that then while you're in school living at home.

I mean what will look better on a college/scholarship application? "I know how to program in Objective C," or "Here's the app I created in Objective C"? (Monarch Express, created by two of my students)

Now, how do we teach our students to do this? How do we get them to be the entrepreneurs they can be? All you need today to start your own business is a computer, a connection to the internet, and persistance!

No comments: