March 3, 2011


Photo Credit: stock.xchng
Our society is organized in a way that evaluates people's abilities in a rather superficial way. Often we are not considered qualified unless we have received a certain degree, or certification or some other seal of approval. When someone who doesn't know you wants to assess your abilities, the quickest way for them to do this is to look at whatever “qualifications” you have.

The problem with this method of evaluating someone is that these seals of approval are not necessarily indicative of what they're actually capable of. This works both ways. For example, there are a lot of things that you learned in high school that you no longer remember. There are math problems that you could solve in 10th grade that would perplex you today. But the fact that you have a diploma means that you get credit for knowing those things even when you don't actually know them anymore. You have that seal of approval.

On the other hand, there are people who are very knowledgeable and skilled in certain fields, despite the fact that they have no formal training. There are people who can fix anything on a car, but who have no official certification. There are people who don't have a degree in computer science or programming who are great at writing and developing software.

Is it necessary to seek out various seals of approval for the purpose of proving to others that you have the skills that you already know you have? Or is it possible to get where you need to be by letting your work and knowledge speak for themselves?

Are you qualified because you have the skills or are you qualified because you've been deemed qualified by an institution or organization?

In a world where so much knowledge is free and readily accessible, it's time to re-evaluate the way we evaluate people and their skills. A new process would be more difficult and time-consuming, but it would provide a more accurate assessment of someone's capabilities.

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LaNeshe said...

I definitely agree. Experience should hold more weight than degrees.

Apple said...

I also agree, but I wonder what that evaluation process would look like?

Unfortunately, I think that sometimes we as a society worry more about convenience than accuracy. We want stuff to be quick and simple: resumes are best when they're only a page long, and everyone loves seeing certifications and degrees on someone's office wall. I think though, that we miss out on people with extraordinary talents and skills because of that.

Trevor said...

@Apple I don't know what that evaluation process would look like either. Maybe something that factors in skills that have been developed outside of a work or formal education environment. I definitely agree with your assessment of the problems that come with our society's love of convenience.

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