I’ve been mulling over the idea of who gets to be called “smart” in our society. That was one of the points of what some call “credentialing,” or earning a degree. The thinking is that that degree attests to one’s academic successes.
However, this is bullshit.
One of my colleagues is a brilliant front-end developer. Said colleague would be, for most people, self-taught on this topic, having dropped out of not one but four different colleges without having completed a degree. But front end development is, in its way, is one of the “digital trades” — jobs that must be done but don’t typically add to the broader discourse around what’s being built. People seem to be fine with noncredentialed individuals in this field holding the same position as someone who finished school.
I wonder if this situation would change if more people held degrees in the digital trades and the labor market wasn’t so tight. The field is changing so rapidly, though, that degrees earned five years ago are already getting a little rusty under the hood.
I bring this up because I think we are all, in our way, digital tradespeople. Our fields may not change as definitively as the digital trades, but rest assured that technological developments trickle down and affect us all. I have met many academics whose fields of knowledge they focused on on grad school are now out of date and could use with a refresher course or two. Teachers need to participate in professional development courses throughout their careers; perhaps higher ed teachers should follow their example.