Mike Rowe on Selling Pencils and the Difference Between Qualifications and Competency

 

2940983659_0482a018e4_oOn his Facebook page, former Dirty Jobs host and prominent blue-collar trades proponent Mike Rowe was asked to respond to Howard Dean’s comment that Scott Walker’s lack of a college degree makes him”unknowledgeable” and that we should require presidential candidates to have a bachelor’s.

Rowe’s response is well worth a read. It’s hard to quote it without ruining the great story he tells about how he landed his first job in television, but here’s a bit toward the end that circles back to Walker and the election:

Look at how we hire help – it’s not so different than how we elect leaders. We search for work ethic on resumes. We look for intelligence in test scores. We search for character in references. And of course, we look at a four-year diploma as though it might actually tell us something about common-sense and leadership.

Obviously, we need a bit more from our elected officials than the instincts of a home shopping host, but the business of determining what those “qualifications” are is completely up to us. We get to decide what matters most. We get to decide if a college degree or military service is somehow determinative. We get to decide if Howard Dean is correct.

…I think a trillion dollars of student loans and a massive skills gap are precisely what happens to a society that actively promotes one form of education as the best course for the most people. I think the stigmas and stereotypes that keep so many people from pursuing a truly useful skill, begin with the mistaken belief that a four-year degree is somehow superior to all other forms of learning. And I think that making elected office contingent on a college degree is maybe the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Tom Roche.

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  1. user_998621 Member
    user_998621
    @Liz

    Indeed, it was.  Thanks for that, Knotwise.

    I have a feeling that Scott Walker is looking forward to discussing his lack of a degree with the Howard Deans of the world.  He doesn’t strike me as easily intimidated; I would love to see him come out swinging.

    • #1
  2. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Thanks. This was good.

    • #2
  3. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Thanks for sharing that.

    This is a quote (from my favorite, Jacob Bronowski) about science, but it makes a very similar point:

     “[T]esting in science, as in any human activity, is by nature only a diagnostic procedure: it does not express the function of an activity–it only marks out conditions for it. Scientific theories are not invented for the purpose of passing tests, any more than motor cars and courses in philosophy… The test by falsification will diagnose when a theory falls sick, but does not reflect what we ask a healthy theory to be or to do.

    We really are at the point where we seem to value the test more than the knowledge and ability it’s supposed to demonstrate.

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @TGWShark

    I’d consider voting for Mike Rowe for President, but I suspect the job is too dirty for him to take.

    • #4
  5. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    TGWShark:I’d consider voting for Mike Rowe for President, but I suspect the job is too dirty for him to take.

    ^Like.

    • #5
  6. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    I have taught in both the public and parochial school systems, and I’ve been around a lot of people who were well qualified for their jobs…and not at all competent at them.

    In college, I had a fantastic ed psych professor who told us that there was a big difference between what we needed to know to pass our teachers’ exams and what we needed to know to be good teachers. He advised us to learn the answers to use them on the test and never to try them with real children.

    I’ve learned that being able to do a job in theory (being qualified) is not necessarily a valid predictor of being able to do a job in reality.

    • #6
  7. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    TGWShark:I’d consider voting for Mike Rowe for President, but I suspect the job is too dirty for him to take.

    It is only dirty because it occupants have made it so.

    • #7
  8. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Thanks for sharing this. I appreciate Rowe’s observations.

    • #8
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