“Life is pain. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. ” -Wesley from The Princess Bride
21st century westerners need to remind themselves of this life truth as the marketing spin doctors bombard them 24/7 through their phones, culture and governments with promises of safety and a pain free life if only we buy this product or subscribe to this service. No one likes when a business deal goes badly so certifications are the cure, right? Probably not.
Education whether it be formal with a silver spoon, hard knocks in the street, or somewhere in between has been the case for sometime. Rather public funded education run by the government is actually one of the newer practices as a result of the Enlightenment. What’s even newer is government sanctioned certifications with the blessings of a ruling body who claims the expert rights to endow such certifications in given fields.
My first experience with this was through the Red Cross’s CPR, First Aid, and Lifesaving classes. Achieving these certifications was key for me to secure the coveted teen job of life guard. It enabled Peter me to hire me to teach swimming lessons at the local YMCA even though the Lifesaving class had nothing to do with teaching anyone how to swim. That had to come with on the job training watching and following my mentor.
I keep all the certifications up with CPR being the most annoying requiring updates every year. Later in the 1990’s emerged the Lifeguarding class who’s swimming requirements weeded out many who passed the Red Cross’s Lifesaving course. But then there weren’t enough who could pass so they dropped the requirements. Then the real question was who was swimming every day practicing the skills? They have the certificate, they don’t have to prove anything anymore do they? These are the questions that surround whether certification is a good idea or needed at all.
Talk to any good caring professional these days. Certification is NOT proof of quality training and execution thereof. It’s become a money making racket for government sanctioned organizations to decide who’s allowed in the profession and who’s not.
It’s produced an interesting conundrum. For the fields that we know well we understand what a joke certification and licensing has become, but then we are conditioned to look for sheepskins and push our children to pursue them. Don’t misunderstand me, I advocate and model life long learning if only certification and licensing rewarded this, but they don’t. Rather they might hinder it. They only accept what classes that are approved by them. They don’t take into consideration what really matters. They insult instead by wasting your time and demanding your money. I had to wait for an hour on the phone yesterday to speak to a representative on which form I should complete to re-activate my Florida State Professional Teacher’s Certificate. Then I am treated like a criminal who’s guilty and has to prove my innocence by submitting fingerprints yet again and paying $90.75 to do so.
I’ve come to view this all as academic and professional bullying. So what do you do? Of course you have to work within the system, but choose carefully who you hire and why. Most importantly don’t allow yourself or your children to be bullied that they have to be schooled by certified teachers.
Teacher certification is what really opened my eyes to the hypocrisy. I remember taking the National Teacher’s Certification Test at West Virginia University in 1990. The test did not really assess my understanding of biology, but it did test my political correctness. In fact, I recall feeling absolutely unprepared especially when it came to the vast array of scientific equipment, laboratory procedures, and assessment thereof. It wasn’t until I had worked for several years in the pharmaceutical industry by walking the hallways of prestigious medical school, studied in their libraries, and engaged in discussions with professors of medicine at journal clubs and at the national medical meetings that I actually found some understanding that produce enough confidence in the world of biology and medicine.
Ironically this amazing academic medical experience was completely dismissed when I stepped back into the public classroom to teach middle school science. My pay level was reduced to credit only the half-day long term substitute teaching I had done in the early 1990’s. However, they managed to re-active a dormant teaching certificate provided I jumped through a few more of their hoops.
Being a bit naïve to how political certification really is, I challenged myself to work towards National Board Teacher Certification. I made note of all the requirements, worked very hard on my own, but skipped the “optional” Saturday morning “training” classes because I wasn’t going to leave my baby at home without me any more than I already did all week long to teach full time. I’m pretty sure that’s why I never passed. The final test was 4 essay questions. One I knocked out of the ball bark, two I answered well enough, and the last I completely bombed. Funny my score for all 4 was exactly the same, but added up low enough to ensure that I couldn’t easily try again. Now I could have paid another $125 to repeal and request that my test be graded again, but who needs to shell out more money to be rejected for not showing up for Saturday morning brainwashing?
These are the truths behind teacher certification. It’s been criticized by those in the know from the start. Education like science has always been full of politics, arguing, and debate. Yet it is what is held over parents and their children’s heads. States like Florida may allow parents to homeschool their children, but in order to do so they require an annual assessment to continue to be conducted by a Florida Certified Teacher.
If there is anything I’ve learned homeschooling my daughter for the past eight years is that the best trained teacher doesn’t guarantee a child will learn. The desire to understand is personal and comes from within. Each has a choice to be a fool or to learn to be wise. It’s every parents battle to persuade their children to listen, but ultimately each child is responsible for their decisions. The majority of the book of Proverbs addresses this very issue.
But we live in a culture that values otherwise. I wrote earlier about my observation as a classroom teacher that it was always my fault, never the students depending on the administrator’s goal. It’s funny how the buck stops somewhere, but usually isn’t really at the feet of the one responsible.
To make matters worse in regards to education, the public school model is designed to pull children away from their parents and to orient towards their peers instead. I just finished reading Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D. and Gabor Mate, M.D. According to their work sending children out to be approved by their peers thwarts their ability to develop and contributes to life long immaturity. I’ve also heard it produces a propensity to life long peer pressure.
Nature gives parents the responsibility to raise their children. Ancient cultures and civilizations fill history with proof of this. But after World War II, industrialized countries were seduced to defer this position to “experts.” Who is an expert and why?
Another lesson I’ve learned through homeschooling my child is that I need to clean up my own bad public education even as a certified teacher in 5 different states. Rolling up my sleeves to learn along side my daughter has posed its challenges, but it has also brought the greatest joy and satisfaction.
Don’t allow others to intimidate you any further and especially your kids. Decide what you can and want to do with them and do it. Selectively hire out tutors and coaches as you need. Don’t let the state or the “experts” raise your kids and determine your or their worth. Look for qualified not just certified people to assist you in your life’s journey.
For more provocative thought: https://fee.org/articles/the-origins-of-the-public-school/
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