TL;DR Some have raised the issue of accreditation for faculty teaching in private practice. The solution is deceptively simple. Faculty working in private practice would simply invent a brand new accreditation standard for ourselves. Problem solved. This is not without precedent. Furthermore, there is existing proof that accreditation is a red herring. Home schooling is not accredited.
I’ve been rethinking the definitions of teaching, learning, and taking a class within the context of the need for a new model for faculty, namely elevating teaching to a professional private practice. Here they are as of the spring 2021 semester.
Teaching is creating an environment in which students from all backgrounds can freely immerse themselves in the process of gaining proficiency in, or mastering, a discipline by all possible means, using all provided resources, and by finding other resources. The environment will be free of barriers, intimidation, and outside distractions, and provides opportunity for exploration of intellectual endeavors without fear of failure, reprisal, abuse, intimidation, or punishment. Barriers, in this context, are things we use to relieve us of the responsibility for learning. Some barriers are unavoidable, but many are entirely avoidable, and it is the avoidable ones that teaching must minimize. Hopefully, this definition includes both scholarly classroom teaching and research.
Learning is the willingness to take advantage of your freedom to fully immerse yourself, free of distractions, in gaining proficiency in, or mastering, a discipline without fear of failure, reprisal, abuse, intimidation, or punishment. Learning can happen without knowing what your newly discovered knowledge may be used for in the future. Learning must happen without giving in to feelings of (intellectual) uncomfortableness. Learning never ends, but intermingles with periodic reflection. Hopefully, this definition includes both scholarly classroom learning and research.
Taking a course from an educational institution is an opportunity, indeed a guarantee for an opportunity, to (a) learn under the supervision of an expert in a discipline and/or (b) to earn a credential certifying that you have demonstrated proficiency in a skill or discipline. The expert creates the environment and students do the learning, and that includes deciding what is and is not relevant to the course contents. One depends on the presence of the other. This expert also provides constructive feedback throughout the process and provides a final professional, data driven assessment of a student’s performance. Learning can happen without taking a course, but taking a course guarantees you will have the requisite environment and increases your chance of success.
I want to focus on the issue of earning a credential. Students need some sort of documentation that they have completed a course of study. To my knowledge, existing consensus on how this documentation must look is based solely on fallacious argumentum ad antiquitatem (appeal to tradition) or fallacious argumentum ad auctoritate (appeal to authority). There is nothing stopping us from inventing a new form of such documentation. Furthermore, faculty working in private practice would need some sort of qualification to play the role of traditional accreditation (don’t get me started on the accreditation nonsense…it’s a pay to play racket and everyone knows it). This bothered me for a while at first, but now I see the solution, and it is deceptively simple. Faculty working in private practice would simply invent a brand new accreditation for this brand new teaching model. This it not without precedent, as certain institutions of higher learning do it all the time. Furthermore, there is proof that accreditation is a red herring in at least one large, and growing, educational movement. Home schooling is not accredited but is, as far as I can tell, accepted nationwide by most higher education institutions. Yes, I’m sure there are exceptions. Either way, checkmate.