Monday, April 23, 2012

I find it interesting that the term "education" is not mentioned  anywhere  in the rules and regulations that govern our Amateur Radio Service internationally.  And any professional educator worth their degree will tell you that there is a vast difference between the content and comprehensiveness of the teaching-learning processes involved in "training" versus "education".

What's more, there is a huge difference in measuring academic achievement (which requires a far deeper working knowledge of the material examined) than simply testing to insure that someone is merely competent to perform a skill or a function. 

Unfortunately, right now, with their stupid "incentive licensing" nonsense, the FCC is trying to do the former and the latter.  In my humble opinion, they aren't doing a very good job of either.  And they and haven't been doing a good job for decades.

That's probably because the FCC has traditionally been staffed with a bunch of engineers and lawyers, not educators.  Indeed, most FCC staffers wouldn't have the slightest clue about the basics of human measurement theory and practice...or what's a legally fair and relevant (versus a legally unfair and/or irrelevant) exam if it hit them between the eyes.

But, regardless, the bottom line remains that the FCC's charter from the ITU and the US Congress is to effectively and efficiently put an examination and licensing system in place for our Service that provides just a reasonable assurance that we are minimally competent to safely and courteously operate our stations with the privileges granted.  Period.

Their job is absolutely NOT (and never has been) to turn us all into budding RF engineers.

Yet, somehow, training people to a minimum standard (consistent with safety and non-interference) in our so-called "Amateur" Radio Service in the United States of America has long since morphed into being "not good enough" according to some of the aging "crusty curmudgeons" in our ranks. 

As I've said in previous posts, clearly, the exam for our Tech license needs to be far more comprehensive that it is now.  However, there is simply no regulatory need for the Extra Class license to even be in the mix. Zip...nada...none.

Now, I suppose if you are already a graduate electrical engineer, the Extra Class license material would be a "snap".  But, once again, it's not the "easiness" or the "hardness" of the test material that matters in determining a US Government examination's validity.  It's the relevance of what's on that test to the (additional) privileges it grants that determines that examination's legality.

And, any way you cut it, friends, it simply does not require a working knowledge of a 600+ page Extra Class license manual and the successful completion of yet another 50-question exam (over material largely related to privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees in the US system) to be found uniquely qualified and therefore competent to, for example, operate one's station at 14.024 MHz versus 14.026 MHz.

Unfortunately, for most of us, once we jump through all the FCC's stupid "Extra Class" hoops ourselves, there's no longer a felt need for us to want to change the system for the next poor slob who has to endure the same absolutely baseless, FCC-imposed, Extra Class "hazing rituals" that we all did. 

If anything, human nature being what it is, strong feelings of "I did it and so should you" take over and the end result is that absolutely nothing changes.

In fact, I remain convinced that it's this "I've got mine" social phenomenon that is one of the principal reasons why our Service has now devolved into the sociological and technological backwater that we have since become.

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