Re: TW and education

Subject: Re: TW and education
From: Eric Haddock <eric -at- ENGAGENET -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 1996 11:31:35 -0600

A few points....

There will always be goofs. Degrees don't weed them out--we all know
this. Part of the reason for this is that writing is difficult to quantify
as a skill--it's really very subjective. Degrees generally help with
weeding, yes, but it also hurts in other areas. Some people will be
excluded--including some talented, valuable writers. If the whole idea of
hiring is to acquire talented, valuable writers and if degrees requirements
don't do this and since they can actually be counter productive to that
aim--what's the point of requiring a degree for writing?

I feel imposing a certification/degree/whatnot standard expends an
amount of energy that is wholly disproportionate to the benefit received.
The primary responsibility of hiring a good technical writer rests with
the person/dept./etc. doing the hiring. If that entity feels a degree is
necessary, then obviously the process is accepting the risk of overlooking
talented writers.
We have all seen requirements loosened a bit. A company may start out
asking for a minimum of 5 years experience say, then relax that to 3 years.
This is a reaction to the real-life fact that requirements can exclude good
people right out of consideration, and no one wants that.

Writing--even technical writing--is a fluid, artistic discipline, don't
you think? As such, it's nigh impossible to really quantify competence
with, of all things, a degree. It's closer to an art than a skill.
And: it's difficult enough to quantify what our _jobs_ are to our
co-workers and sometimes even to each other (remember the talk about
whether graphic design pursuits should be included in our task lists?)
without this entering the mix.

The imposition of a standard is a huge expenditure of effort which will
not yield the results desired. It will either be too strict and exclude
valuable people and be counter productive, or too loose and not be
effective at doing much of anything. This is a negative outlook and
contrary to my usual optimism, but that's the way it looks to me right now.

Eric Haddock ------ (temporary URL)
Engage Networks, Inc. --------
Technical writer in Milwaukee, WI

My dream: wild growing flowers with candied petals and chocolate stems

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