Thought Archive

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is education important?

If formal credentials were the main factor in hiring employees - the one and only and one factor in doing so - then many mistakes would have been made under the simplistic premise. It is a well known fact that Einstein studied poorly at school, he did not excel, and yet later he became a world famous scientist.

Many reasons can be supplied supporting importance of educational credentials: after all that why we study and, having completed a course we request transcripts and worry about status of our GPA and whether we have graduated with honours. Our success in education means that we are diligient, we - maybe - are talented in the chosen field,and that we are able to succesfully complete what we have started. Is that not enough - one might say.

Everything that person achieved has to be looked at, however. When I interviewed applicants for a BP job or scholarship well written CV was the most important factor for me in screening them. Educational credentials can show success at good marks but do not provide information on the person's ability to perform in the wider world - and they should not - that a person can convey during interview or in the CV. Therefore the degree attained by an applicant is only a first hurdle on the road towards employment. Leaving it as the only hurdle to go through is unfair towards the applicants.

There are many examples in large organizations - now discontinued in parts - where people were hired without a specialized education in the chosen field ,but they worked in this field and rose throuh ranks of an organization starting from most lowly jobs and finishing on the top. They had enormous courage, stamina and ability - and they were recognized. And later, many of them went to successfully complete their education using a chance they were denied in the past.

Sometimes, in the countries outside Europe and US, educational credentials are suspect. In those countries education system is tainted by corruption and incompetence of university education. And yet those countries - mine included - have a great number of educated individuals attaining an education striving on their own - sometimes despite their educational system and not because of it.

Of course, no one denies that for certain technical fields successfull PhD and scientific merit is the pre-requisite and organizations do recognize that. The value those specialsts highly. However, even in that case - if the organization consists of employees and not of self-employed individuals - an asocial and disruptive genius is best left alone an outside collective lest he upsets the overall balance.


Riri said...

Yes, "asocial and disruptive genius", that's me to a T. That's why am best left alone, am warning you now.

NoolaBeulah said...

I used to interview people to work as English teachers. I hardly glanced at their qualifications. It was their personality that had to be right - outgoing, good listeners, interested in what people said rather than the structure of their sentences, not pedantic. At least for lower levels, such qualities are far more important than professional knowledge. There was one woman there (in Italy) whose English had been totally corrupted by Italian (she used words like 'conversate'), but she had a marvellous ability to get people with little English talking.