Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Credentials? How About Ability?

Pete Hamill, author; Brian Williams, anchor; James Taranto, columnist...

In common: no degree. None. In Hamill's case, not even a HS diploma.

It gets even better, but first this word from our editorialist:

It is a wonderful thing to sit in a classroom and grow in knowledge, if one is in fact doing that, but often it seems that degrees should be awarded in going through the motions; they come without a genuine expansion of thought, or an enlargement of wonder. And, to paraphrase Gregory of Nyssa, it’s the wondering that begets the knowing.

This one knocks me over:

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter dropped out of Boston University to start playing guitar in various local bands and became a founding member of Steely Dan and an occasional Doobie Brother. While he still accepts studio gigs, Baxter also chairs the Civilian Advisory Board for Ballistic Missile Defense and consults with the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and various defense manufacturers. His expertise in the area of missile defense systems and tactics is considerable, and he is self-taught. An interest in recording technology got him to wondering about military hardware, and things took off from there.

More than just China Grove.

I think Ms. Scalia may have written her conclusion before finding the evidence here:

Perhaps the over-reliance upon credentials is connected to the undervaluing of faith in society.

...because I'm not certain that 'faith' is the common denominator.

But she makes a point:

...when faith was common to kings and paupers, self-evident brightness and acumen were appreciated and acknowledged. People understood that there was more than one way to learn, or that ideas could be burnished and gifts could be nourished by sheer curiosity sustained on a pilot-light of passion, even without the consent and certification of an appointed body.

Well. Having 'faith' in people is different from having 'faith' per se. On the other hand, it should be evident that having 'faith' in college degree(s) ain't no panacea.


GOR said...

I agree that the ‘piece of paper’ - whether a HS Diploma, GED or four-year bachelor’s degree - are no guarantors of knowledge or ability and we put too much emphasis on ‘credentials’.

My boss in banking rose to be a Senior VP, had never attended college, but was an exceedingly able and successful banker - managing a lot of people with BAs and MAs. No one would have thought to hold his lack of ‘credentials’ against him because he proved his ability on the ground. Sad to think he probably would not have even gotten an interview today – and it would have been the company’s loss.

neomom said...

Seems to me there were some reports that got out recently as well that it is confirmed that college doesn't teach critical thinking skills and that at least two years are a complete waste of time and money.

So much for that Scott Walker didn't graduate from college crap...