The Social Function of Unaccredited Education

The Social Function of Unaccredited Education

Regular readers of my site are familiar with how I feel about unaccredited education. I am fond of using terms like Third World Education to describe schools that have real, but unreliable standards. But, in fact, I have yet to find an unaccredited school that truly provides a quality education. Despite this, I continually get e-mails and comments from readers insisting that unaccredited education serves a real purpose. I am in Canada right now visiting my family, and yesterday, I had coffee with a former professor who has become a good friend. We had a conversation that illuminated this problem for me. I think that I now understand what the social function of unaccredited education is.

He told the story of a former student who is planning on registering in a graduate degree program in Counseling offered by an unaccredited school from the USA. This school runs the program through a series of seminars offered on weekends. It is possible to finish in less than a year. My friend explained that despite his explanations that the degree will not qualify its holder for positions at hospitals or colleges, his former student appears to believe it will help her change her life. At first, we both agreed that the former student was deluding herself, but after talking about this, I no longer feel this way. In fact, I now believe that such a degree can change someone’s life and career opportunities. But to understand this, you have to know something about the life of the former student.

Currently, she works at a major Canadian university finding jobs for graduates of one of their programs. This is a clerical position and she makes what in Canada is a low-end professional salary. She feels that she is underemployed in a job like this and wants something more than just her BA in Philosophy can give her. It is not entirely true that this unaccredited degree will get her nothing. As my professor pointed out, there is a blossoming market for low-end therapists who advertize in the classifieds of such periodicals as the Georgia Strait. My professor’s point is that this throws her into the same job market as literally hundreds of other therapists using methods and training that are equally as questionable. He thought it doubtful that she’d want to battle it out in such a market where it’s questionable how much money she can make in the long-run. But I disagreed. In fact, this may be exactly what she wants.

For reasons I do not understand there is increasingly a demand for professionals to tell people what to do. While some have well understood occupational titles as therapist or counselor, others call themselves such dubious names as consultant, leadership coach, or even inspirational speaker. Check Google to find out more about the vast cottage industry of people working in this end of the professional worker market. Since there is no real definition of these industries or what qualifies one to work in them, I suspect that a degree from one of the many unaccredited programs that I castigate is good enough.

With a combination of part-time work and work in her new found career, the former student may one day even make more money than at her current job. Taiwan is full of people who switch products regularly trying to find that one particular thing they can sell from their social or geographical location. Most of them work in the night market, but why couldn’t we have a market with a similar structure for professional workers? I can easily imagine the former student building up a clientele of customers who for one reason or another choose her services, until one day she has enough business to do it full-time. And who knows where this may lead? If self-help guru John Gray can become a multi-millionaire with a PhD from diploma mill Columbia Pacific University (also see this link), why not the former student?


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What exactly is it that the counseling program provides that will help change her life and career opportunities?

Is it the education provided by a year’s worth of weekend seminars?

Is it the ability to be able to add an initialism to her name?

This is a good question, and that’s why I would never get an unaccredited degree. I’d just as soon start placing PhD after my name and make up the name of a school if someone asked who granted it. But for people who don’t have a clue how to start their new career as an unaccredited ‘counselor’, I have no doubt that such degrees provide an introduction to the field. — after all, there is no evidence that therapy really works.

Can’t resist. I’m looking at the bulletin board section of ‘Monday Magazine’, a Victoria, BC, alternative, and reading an ad for ‘Ear Cloning,’ provided by a ’25 YEARS CERTIFIED’ person. Cost = CDN$45. One ear or for a pair? doesn’t say. Doesn’t clarify what the word ‘certified’ means either.

Financially speaking, if I could clone four pairs a day, from home, I would be very, very, happy. Best therapy in the world. I’d be working, paying taxes, socially responsible and functional … possibly.

Obviously, I’d need to find out how to get certified before I set up shop, but maybe not, maybe it has already happened. I could make it work, just like my Taiwan English classes worked because I was a over qualified CERTIFIED Native Speaking English Teacher.

I’m not sure that one can discuss this person’s desire to change her life or compare her with anything Taiwanese without considering the cultural importance that endurance and ‘self’ has within a particular culture–especially one which has such a difficult time with the verb ‘to be’. However, having said that, alternative healing doesn’t always come with a certificate, whichever side of the ocean one happens to be on.

With apologies to any ear cloners. It was the 25 Years Certified that got me hooked.

Ah. and there’s the rub of it. Ear CONERS. Not CLONERS.

Bureaucratic accreditation of global education by any organization, be it governmental or private agencies, or the business of accreditation of education soon takes the arrogant behaviour of educational policing and educational dictatorship. The power-crazed are hungry to be the license dictators to education. Some of them by now could hardly past their exams if re-tested for they have now degenerated into the “lower forms”. So it is better to play hero to education beating the drums for fear of not being heard and for the ritual of continuous representation of what is now a “blanko” in their minds.
This is likely to be the dis-ease of a future unhealthy trend in global education if we continue to be very busy about accreditation of diplomas without looking at it deeper. The accreditation agencies, even the legal ones, become a nuisance to education itself when “blankos” try to finger-point at one another just for the sake of enjoying the pleasure of attacking opponents. This is the case of strategies miscarriage in the art of war in education. It is still the petty minds at work – much ado about putting others down for the sake of putting others down, but not themselves.

The unexplained unknown is that there is always someone who can find a way to counter another in whatever “claims” in educational accreditation. When there is a plus immediately you will find a minus. Who accreditates the accreditators?

Ultimately, GOD accreditates all accreditating institutions for HE is the real accreditator of education. HE makes sure that the national accreditators do not become bureaucratic mischiefs and educational arm-twisters by mediocres hiding behind this shield. (Mantovani)


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