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Subject: Certification


From: Karen Dabney <kdabney>
Date: Monday, November 25, 2002
George Wheeler <george.wheeler [at] metmuseum__org> writes

>I have read with increasing concern the discussion of certification
>as it has appeared in the AIC News. In the November 2002 issue it
>was suggested that we all go back and read previously published
>articles on the subject ...

In going back over the issues of the AIC News there appear to be
only benefits and no downside to certification. At some point the
Task Force appears to have moved from "examining all sides"--a task
which is still incomplete--to working to make sure that
certification happens, i.e. that there is a "right" answer about
certification. It is such "right" answers that makes one circumspect
about a functioning certification process.

I am not sure that our profession is yet mature enough for
certification. I would rather hold onto to the excitement and direct
our energy towards creating more knowledge and garnering more
experience so that at some point in the future certification will
seem a natural next step, not a leap whose fundamental risks are
insufficiently examined or dimly perceived.

I'd like to thank George Wheeler for his thoughtful analysis of the
pros and cons of certification (please refer to his full message.)I
too have been concerned about the push for certification, for many
of the reasons he presents and a few others. I do not think we are
ready for certification, and I do not think that certification will
bring our profession the benefits we hope for.

George mentions how our profession is often compared to the medical
profession, which has board certification. Has anyone seriously
looked into what certification has done for medicine? Yes, there
have been benefits, but the certification process and the medical
professional organizations do not seem to be effective in ridding
the field of the incompetent individuals who should not be
practicing medicine. As a result, medical professionals are faced
with expensive malpractice insurance; frequent lawsuits; mountains
of paperwork to protect the practitioner in case of lawsuits; and
excessive, expensive testing to protect the practitioner.

If such a well-established field is not able to use certification to
ensure that the practitioners meet certain standards for hand
skills, problem solving, and other qualities not easily tested for
on an academic style exam, how can our profession hope to do better?
And will our own version of certification lead to increased
litigation and related expenses for conservators?

In my opinion, American conservators would do far better to focus on
educating the public about conservation and criteria for selecting a
conservator. Most of the people I meet don't even know what a
conservator is, so what significance will certification have for
them? Many people are still taking their artifacts and art to the
local self-taught restorer, and we are not going to affect this by
making conservators jump through the hoop of certification. Public
education and outreach will do far more for us at this point in our
young profession. I hope that we will reconsider the issue of
certification in light of what it will do for us, and see if other
avenues will achieve these goals more effectively.

Karen Dabney
Commonwealth Conservation Center
Harrisburg, PA

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:35
                 Distributed: Monday, November 25, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-16-35-002
Received on Monday, 25 November, 2002

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