May 6, 2011 by Willy Cardoso
A professional’s skills and knowledge are not confined to time or space formalized by accreditation bodies.
Do you know what makes me sick?
primary reliance on certificates, diplomas, degrees, etc, for purposes of job recruitment and professional status.
Teaching skills CAN BE acquired by experience and informal studies. As a matter of fact, I don’t see so many people disagreeing with that. Besides, millions of teachers have demonstrated that experience and non-formal professional development are most of the times more valuable than formal training.
But there are too many people, and few jobs. OK – use formal qualification as a screening device; it’s the fastest way to limit the number of applications and filter CVs anyway.
Implicit in the diploma disease model is the assumption that employers use educational certificates primarily as ‘screening’ devices – as measures of general ability (intelligence and powers of application) which indicate a person’s likely ‘trainability’ over a whole range of skills, rather than as indicators of the cognitive and other skills which he has acquired as ‘human capital’ through his schooling. (R. Dore)
I can’t argue about that. I don’t like it, but… Business is business, it has to be efficient business-wise even if not effective education-wise.
What ticks me off is when a certain qualification is required for a job and the job description has many other things that are sometimes more important than what that qualification pressumably equipped its holder with.
Teaching aside, let’s take a look at management positions and some examples I saw today at a major job ads website for ELT professionals. (my reds)
Director of Studies required
- DELTA / Diploma qualification essential
- Previous management experience not required.
- The successful applicant will be responsible for the development and management of the teaching staff plus day-to-day running of the academic side of the school
Director of Studies
The role of a DOS incorporates the following:
• With the other members of the management team, ensuring that a high quality programme is delivered, following our guidelines closely
• Overall management of the academic programme and the teaching team, ensuring that it is of the highest possible standard so that the students derive the maximum benefit from their course
• Ensuring that lessons and activities are integrated, following our syllabus and guidelines
• Safety and welfare of all students at all times
you must be DELTA/Trinity DipTESOL qualified or equivalent
Assistant Course Manager, duties:
- To assist the Course Manager in every aspect of the work of the Course Management Department
- Deputising for the Course Manager by arrangement.
DELTA with teaching experience at all levels
Just three examples out of dozens (these are current vacancies in the UK). In case you don’t know much about DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) take a look at http://cambridgeesol.org/exams/teaching-awards/delta-modular.html and you’ll see that you can get a fine teacher out of that programme (I guess), but manager???
Notice that this blogpost is not to belittle TEFL Diplomas (not that I like them), but why is it that it became a prior condition to hold a management position? Or better ALL management positions in private sector ELT/TEFL in UK. I agree that a substantial part of the job needs sound understanding of how to teach and its principles, notions of assessment and syllabus design, and many other things included in the diploma, but when it comes to management…
Is it just a problem of terminology or is it that they don’t know the meaning of management? Or do they really think that if you are a qualified teacher you can be a good manager? Or even, is it that they haven’t even thought about why they require such a qualification?
I would love to hear from diploma holders and trainers if in their experience aspects of academic management were developed throughout their courses.
More than anything, I would love to hear from school owners, directors, principals, recruiters, why they demand the qualifications they demand.
This is really a minor example of the diploma disease, but one that deeply affects me as a professional.
Credentialism is all over the place, it’s pervasive, and it corrupts the purpose of getting education. In turn, people who are genuinely interested in learning might get demotivated when their intentions are transfered to standards and their skills are like foreign, depreciated currencies in the jobs market.
Is it really impossible to create schools without the goal of the bread-and-butter, certificate-seeking, lifelessly instrumental motive for learning which, I persist in believing, is steadily eroding the qualityof schooling throughout the world? (R. Dore)
quotes from The Diploma Disease Revisited by Ronald Dore