Degrees with Expiry Dates LO6407

William Buxton (
Thu, 4 Apr 1996 08:04:25 -0500

Replying to LO6314 --

Seems to me that there are two major assumptions in the proposition that
degrees should have expiration dates, both of them destructive in the long

1. Higher education is the prime source of our know how.

For someone fresh out of college, this may have some merit. But it
becomes less true each year. For most of us, most of the know how we use
in our work we have developed through our work. The mark of a quality
education is how well it prepares us to continue learning, including the
mastery of entirely new disciplines.

The negative consequences of being hooked on credentials are many and
probably don't need much elaboration.

2. Formal education is the prime source of updating our know how.

Back in the 80s, I participated in a computer systems certification
program. To maintain certification, you had to document the things you'd
done each year to stay current. Sounds reasonable, but in practice only
formal schooling and paid seminars counted. I'm a fan of both, but to
suggest that they are the major source of professional development is just
silly. Consider the ablest people you know, the leading edgers; they
might well do some teaching or run some seminars, but clearly their work
is the source of their professional growth.

The negative consequences of relying too exclusively on outside sources
for an organization's learning ought to be obvious.

In sum, I think it's fair to say that degree expiry is antithetical to the
idea of a learning organization. Recently degreed people can bring new
ideas and techniques to an organization, outside courses can be a useful
source of the latest and greatest, but the work itself should be the major
engine of growth and adaptation.

Bill Buxton <>


"William Buxton" <>

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