Archive for November, 2011

Continuing Education

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 Mike Ficco

I’ve had a couple of teachers in my family for several years.  Recently I became aware (well, I started paying attention to) the rather stringent requirements for teachers’ continuing education.  The specifics of the requirements vary depending on the system in which the teacher works, but the intent of the rules is universal.  That is, you can’t teach youngsters – disabled, gifted, or normal, unless:

  1. You periodically demonstrate you haven’t forgotten all you were taught.
  2. You are regularly exposed to new thinking, techniques, and technology relevant to your field.

You can see why this is so important for teachers – after all, there’s no telling the damage a teacher may do to a student by, for example, teaching them multiplication using a 50 year old technique.

In contrast, no engineering job of which I’m aware requires periodic certification of knowledge or exposure to new thinking or advancements.  True, I’m aware of many jobs that require annual sexual harassment training or perhaps a refresher in the corporate security rules, or maybe even a reminder about the rules for trading stocks based on insider information.  However, I’m aware of nothing that has to do with an engineer actually knowing how to do their job.  Nothing.

It’s a good thing engineers aren’t involved in anything as critical as – say – maintaining the self-esteem of a student struggling to learn how to spell.  Engineers merely design pacemakers, aircraft, and weapons of mass-destruction; nothing nearly as important.

Can anybody explain this?