Whitehead/Licensing Technical Communicators

Subject: Whitehead/Licensing Technical Communicators
From: Paul Trummel <trummel -at- U -dot- WASHINGTON -dot- EDU>
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1993 07:54:33 -0700

I concur with many of your views.

There exists a distinct difference between education and training.
Universities educate and the industry/professional societies train.
Enough international professional societies already exist to cover
communication issues as diverse as public relations and graphic arts.
Most of them deal satisfactorily with ethics and mutually acceptable
principles of conduct without bureaucratic intervention or licensing.

I guess that the satire to which you allude occurs in the second part of
your penultimate paragraph!

On Thu, 24 Jun 1993, Robert Whitehead wrote:

> If you want to really promote technical communication and provide a
> standard by which we can be fairly and objectively judged, try the
> Medieval solution: make the STC into a _guild_. Assign titles like
> Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master; put apprenticed writers under
> the tutelage of acknowledged masters and let them work their way up.

> Look at Medicine: even if you graduate from medical school, you
> must complete your internship and residency _under the guidance of
> other doctors who underwent the same training themselves_. You have
> to be accepted by the community (or guild, if you will) of
> physicians, who have seen you practice and know your skills and
> weaknesses, before you can ever stand on your own; if not, they
> won't ever recommend patients to your care.

> It's even done in Engineering, where you must work under the
> guidance and instruction of a P.E. (Professional Engineer) for years
> before you can aspire to become one.

> Sure, we can continue to have colleges teaching students the theory
> of technical communication, but we all understand that what is
> taught in college too often has little relevance to the working
> world of the employed tech writer.

> Forget professionalism; think craftsmanship! Bill Horton for
> Guildmaster!

> (Author's Note: a small portion of this statement was written with
> tongue firmly in cheek; it's up to you to discover which one.)

Paul Trummel
Department of Technical Communication
University of Washington, Seattle

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