Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Professional qualifications

Professional qualifications

From: Bryan Owen <Bryan_Owen>
Date: Thursday, February 18, 1999
Thank you Jack Thompson.  I was wondering when someone would massage
their cortex and throw another perspective into this fray.  I have
enjoyed working with both types of practitioners in my short tenure
as a paper conservator.  Yes, that's what I believe I am.  I
challenge anyone to dispute that rationally.

As a parallel to the chimera of raising the professional standards
in our field, I would like to relate the story of the practicing
architect. There was a time when anyone who wished to qualify as an
architect apprenticed with an established practitioner(s) then took
the exam.  Nowadays only people who go through the academic programs
are allowed to take the exam.  Surprisingly most of the test takers
failed on their first attempt.  The areas most failed at were
business, office management, and project management.  The test
designs were good, but the ability to execute them was lacking.  My
only point is that in the rush to "professionalize" a field, the
technique most often employed is academic inundation.  For instance,
you need this class in order to say you know this, and so forth and
so on.  I don't know of a profession that has survived long without
being turned into a "craftsmen free zone".  Most professions end up
being fully absorbed by the schools one attended and not one's
abilities and experiences.

But let us be realistic.  Part of the reason why many organizations
attempt to hire people with goat skins is based upon the H.L. Menken
quote referred to by Thompson.  Many grant giving organizations show
a marked preference toward a firm or museum that have graduates.  In
the same vein, most of the more advanced workshops and classes
offered in this country are meant for or targeted toward 'graduates
of a recognized program', not people who have learned on the job.
When non-graduates are kept from advanced learning opportunities,
then you have a job market better suited to the ones who fit the
bill (surprise).  Soon more members of the AIC will be from a
program and old codgers like Mr. Thompson (no offense) will be a
thing of the past.

Enough ranting for today.  Suffice it to say, myriad types can exist
and thrive in this field, but the type which can't is the one with
no demonstrable skills.  A graduate degree should not keep them from
being weeded out. It's not brain surgery we're doing here people.

Bryan Owen
Paper Conservator
Frederick Law Olmsted NHS
99 Warren St.
Brookline MA 02445

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:68
                 Distributed: Friday, February 19, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-68-002
Received on Thursday, 18 February, 1999

[Search all CoOL documents]