further thoughts: professionalization

Professionalization 2.

This is a follow-on post to “The Professionalization of Care.”

There is an insidious thing happening in our culture around the professionalization of everything, from elder care, to education, to repair projects around the house. People are thinking more and more that if you want something done right, you must hire a professional… and this, in my opinion, is Baby-Boomer nonsense. Competence (or the development of it) and professionalization are not the same thing.

This point was driven home to me when I served on the school board in Marathon. Marathon is a very small place (450 population) that is 30 miles away from Alpine (6,000 population). The K-12 total enrollment of Marathon is about 45 kids, and the town has been perpetually worried about its independent school system being swallowed up by its larger neighbor in Alpine, and its children spending an hour or more daily on the school bus. The cost of maintaining its independent status is about a million dollars a year—an amount that can never be recovered by taxes on the local community. As a result, the school district’s fate is dependent on a complicated funding formula that relies on the largesse of external Texas communities near and far; it is exacerbated by State-mandated operational standards (and expenses) for school facilities that are more appropriate to large suburban school systems, rather than a system which is focused on just 45 kids.

I came onto the school board with visions of achieving a sustainable, long-range solution to this precarious situation. My solution was to evolve some sort of hybrid education system that combined the individualized benefits of home schooling with the shared benefits of centralized facilities—libraries, science labs, sports teams and gymnasiums, etc. Well, when word of these strategic musings wormed their way into the town rumor mill, you would have thought that I was advocating the closure of the local schools, rather than their preservation. Within a month or two of my election, I was faced by an angry mob of parents who made it clear to me at a special meeting that they would accept no direct role in the education of their own children. They were intimated at the prospect.

I won’t argue whether such a system would have worked, nor use its rejection as a justification for my rather unremarkable tenure on the school board, but I have observed that there is a correlation between the involvement of parents and families in their children’s schooling and the quality of education those children have received. This correlation remains true, even when home-schooling families have adopted curricula that seem hare-brained in our modern world (for example, the Robinson Method, which advocates the reading of no literature works published after 1912).

What this experience in Marathon taught me is that (1) too many Americans see themselves as consumers of education, rather than participants, and that (2) they have succumbed to the view (promoted by the teachers’ unions) that only “professionals” are qualified to teach. As a result, they abdicate their traditional responsibilities as parents and become willing participants in their children’s dumbing-down. They forget that we all have wisdom to impart and share. They forget that the root of the word “amateur” is ‘love’—which in the case of education denotes a love of learning.

How else would yesterday’s post have been possible?



Groove of the Day

Listen to The Mae Shi performing “R U Professional?”


Weather Report

77° and Clear


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