Let’s look at a few definitions of profession and professional.
Consider the following list of four-year degrees offered through California State University, Fullerton, and apply Gibson’s strict definition, which he has already taken out of its intended context. Let’s see what sort of professionals we create.
- Afro-Ethnic Studies
- American Studies
- Arabic, Language and Literature
- Asian American Studies
- Biological Sciences
- Business Administration
- Chicana and Chicano Studies -"Hello, my name is Gregorio and I am a Professional Chicanaologist and Chicanologist."
- Computer Engineering
- Education -"My name is Phil and I am a Professional Educator, although I have never worked as an educator."
- Educational Leadership -"Hi, I'm Linda and I'm a Professional Educational Leader!"
- Elementary and Bilingual Education
Now let’s look at all of the categories of employment which Gibson is excluding with his assertion of the Court’s definition because the worker may not have a four-year degree.
- Attorney (California)
- Civil Engineer (California)
- Baseball (Sorry A-Rod, but the Florida Supreme Court said you aren't a pro!)
- Basketball (Kobe, time to go back to school)
Yet to be mentioned are the entrepreneurs. These are the individuals who may or may not have a degree. They may or may not have any formal education. These are the folks who have a vision and take the initiative to follow their dreams. Successful entrepreneurs make up the backbone of the United States Economy. Take, for example, Abraham Lincoln. He was educated himself as a surveyor and lawyer. With the application of Gibson’s definition, Lincoln was not a professional. What about Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain)? He didn’t go to college, much less obtain a degree. Would we then contend that he was not a professional writer? I think not, but if you believe Gibson, he was merely a tradesman. The history books are full of great men and woman who didn’t have four-year degrees and yet were successful at their work. Libraries are full of wondrous writings by people who made their living typing out novels and stories without ever attending a university.
So if Gibson is wrong to take the Florida Supreme Courts extraordinary and narrow definition out of context, then what would be a modern and useful definition of a professional? We need only to look back to our aforementioned Black’s Law or Webster’s II dictionaries for the answer.
If education were a pyramid, kindergarten (funny we have never adopted the English term – “child garden”) through the 8th grade would be the bottom. That base creates a good, wide, solid foundation from which a person can grow intellectually. High school is a bit further up – not the top, but getting there. Mixed in is experience. Experience refines the basis into a pointed, focused body of knowledge. Depending on a person’s personality, means, and life choices, he or she might choose no college, trade school, some college, a university, or any combination of advanced education which will surely be supplemented by quality experiences from various sources and activities. Does the lack of a conferred degree detract from their professionalism? I think not.
As a final thought, I find it interesting that Gibson uses "PSM" (Professional Surveyor & Mapper) for the article but doesn't mention his PhD. Conversely, he uses the "PhD" on his university webpage without mentioning his "PSM" credential. Why would he he choose to omit these titles for the article and also his webpage is a mystery. In my opinion, it looks a bit like he's pandering to Professional Surveyor's readers by omitting his PhD.