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Subject: Certification


From: Ellen Pearlstein <epearlstein>
Date: Saturday, November 23, 2002
I respect George Wheeler's opinion about certification, and agree
with him that our field is young, lacks a full research-based
consensus, and that many perceive certification as arbitrarily
divisive. However, I tend to see certification very differently.
Since we are willing to train conservators at the graduate level, we
presumably have reached some perhaps incompletely articulated, and
of course always evolving, consensus about what skills and knowledge
need to be passed on to graduates. These graduates pursue different
specialties and follow different career paths. The consensus
includes ethics, materials science, applied chemistry, environmental
effects, craft, documentation, examination techniques, history of
conservation and treatment, etc., etc., etc.

That said, I do not mean to imply that graduate school is the only
way to master this range of information, or that conservators will
not have strengths in various areas at the expense of others.
However, I do believe that a certification examination designed to
test competency within this broad range would have a certain value.
It may encourage motivated conservators to strengthen their
knowledge in areas that have lapsed. I have understood AIC's
professional development initiative to be about providing training
opportunities for this purpose. The fact that certified conservators
would have to recertify every few years indicates that the range of
relevant information could change, and that recertification would
therefore be in the interest of continued professional growth.

I do not think there is a prayer that non-conservators will take
certification seriously unless it becomes acknowledged by
conservators themselves. In museums, conservators hire other
conservators. Private clients, and museum administrations, are not
likely to hear about it--i.e. it will be a non-issue--unless
conservators are embracing it. I see certification as a device for
professional self examination, matching the background provided by
one's own training and experience against the evolving basic
precepts of our field. If certification ever became widely embraced
by conservators, which is the current debate, only then could I see
it playing a role in evaluation by allied professionals, employers,
clients, etc.

For whatever reason, conservators may perceive the goals of
certification as divisive, and it will therefore not flourish. I
will vote for it because I am confident that the process for
certification can foster professional development, and because I can
make my voice heard if it does not. I guess I am in favor of what it
represents, and I never believed for a minute that the process would
proceed without flaws and difficulties. For the same reasons, I see
value in participating in the activities of our national
professional organization, AIC.

Ellen Pearlstein

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:35
                 Distributed: Monday, November 25, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-16-35-001
Received on Saturday, 23 November, 2002

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