Monday, December 05, 2011

Professional Specialization

When people find out what I do for a living, the next question tends to be, "So what do you teach?" It irritates me a lot. I mean, if you say you're a doctor, people are not normally so ill-mannered as to ask you, "What specialty?" and I think that's generally true for lawyers and engineers.

The answer I normally give is: "I'll teach anything that I can teach. Hopefully it's something that the student(s) will benefit from."

Come on, all teachers in Atlantis are trained to teach. Just because they are pseudo-certified in two teaching subjects doesn't mean either a) that they are sufficiently educated, or b) that they are specialists, or c) that they will know how to handle all the things they're supposed to have been taught to handle.

I mean, all doctors in Atlantis learn anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, community medicine, pathology, blah blah blah. It doesn't mean either a) that they are sufficiently educated, or b) that they are specialists, or c) that they will know how to handle all the things they're supposed to have been taught to handle.

Someone once told me that doctors specialise so that they can reduce expectations. As a specialist, you can duck your professional responsibilities by saying that you are a specialist and hence not qualified to do other stuff — a dermatologist can thus excuse the inability (or lack of desire) to handle an obstetrics case even though the requisite training was received.

Apparently, the same thing is true of teachers. If you're a Chinese teacher, nobody can ask you to teach Science. If you're a Science teacher, nobody will panic you by dumping a Lit class on you. This means that you don't have to think so much, you don't have to learn so much, you can be more confident about being a greater ignoramus than you were in school while being more learned about less.

What a life. What a profession. What nonsense.

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