Hello! My Name is Irrelevant! (Updated)
Losing your job because your skills are shrinking isn't fun. Who hasn't had the nervous feeling that what you know becomes irrelevant, even as what you need to know more relevant and harder to acquire? Ok, I'll step up and admit, I feel that way ALL the time. Over the last few years, I've noticed a fascinating trend...anyone who can do it will get certified in something, add the certification to their email signature, their twitter page, their bio whenever possible.
The lists of certifications are growing increasingly funny. Often, they are certifications from commercial companies that have built up networks of advocates across the country and globe. That is smart marketing from a company perspective, and there are obvious benefits to the individual, right? At the very least, the individual benefit is, "I feel better about that irrelevance bubble hanging over my head." Even well-established library pundits (smile) like Doug "Blue Skunk" Johnson feel compelled to engage in these efforts, in spite of questionable intent of the certifying agency (I've read similar remarks from other Google Certified Trainers):
The challenge is not knowing how to use any Google tool purposely either for professional productivity or with kids, but to be able to recall (or find) trivia about the product. (How many contacts can be imported from a spreadsheet at a time? 50, 1,000, 3,0000, or no limit.)
A few certificates I've noticed--feel free to suggest more in the comments--include the following:
- Apple Distinguished Educator
- DEN Star
- Google Certified Teacher
- Google Certified Trainer
- Mimeo Certified Facilitator
- Promethean Certified
- SMART Certified Teacher
No, the list isn't exhaustive and I'll also admit that I added these types of labels to my signature in my 20s. I still relish the thrill I feel from seeing one of my old emails archived on the 'Net, featuring my signature:
TENET Master Trainer
As heady a feeling as that is, I'm not sure how valuable credentialing is anymore, only that it's more important than ever. The rough-n-ready world of technology certifications seems irrelevant in itself. Or maybe, we just need those certifications at our career's start. I don't know but that feeling of irrelevance doesn't go away. You have to make your peace with that demon some time and realize there's more to be learned than can ever be learned in the time we have.
Continued education should not seem like an unnecessary burden placed on credentialing professions, but rather the process of on-going learning should be considered an opportunity, an asset to one’s profession. As with any improvement strategy in business, continued education should be thoughtfully considered. A simple analysis of one’s competency status can identify key areas which may warrant improvement or specific attention. (Source: The Importance of Continued Education)
Of course, I often wonder at what our children need to know. It's like a critter giving its life so its babies can nest in its bones, inducting its children in an act of creative cannibalism that launches life. For humans, it's selling the house or the car, going without to ensure your kids can get what they need to survive, perhaps thrive, in an uncertain future.
The thoughts come to mind after reading this series of G+ comments around the article that Robert Scoble highlighted:
America still has manufacturing, but it's disappearing pretty quickly and this has deep impacts on our economy.I'm very fortunate to live and work in one of the hot, job-producing sectors in the U.S.: technology. I wonder what my sons will do (Excerpt of Robert Scoble's remarks on Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class).As I reflect on the article, unable to distance myself from the engineer who loses his job at Apple, I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Michael Robinson's list of critical skills:
1: Design fundamentals
2: HTML and CSS
4: Writing and editing
6: Computer and network security
These will cover 99% of the jobs of the future, whatever they end up being.
In fact, these are the skills I see are critical in my daily work every day, no matter what we are doing. Isn't that amazing? That as an educator, my team and I engage in every one of those 6 skills, which are interwoven into the fabric of the work we do in educational leadership and professional learning. To Michael's list, I would also add, "Linux Server Administration."
Perhaps, what I need to do is set out to get the credentialing in these areas to ensure that no matter what, the irrelevance bubble won't rise again.