Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quality Rankings

On the one hand, I am just slightly smug: the University of Toronto was ranked in the top 20 universities in the world by a British study. My doctorate is from U of T; my husband, sister and mother all graduated from U of T and my son just started law school there. It feels good to have it recognized as world class (I graduated in English, for which it is especially renowned).

And yet, my experience at the University of Toronto was not better than my experiences at two other universities. What does the ranking mean for all the universities that did not meet the criteria. Were they lesser universities or did they just have different priorities?

We can sometimes judge merit when we agree on criteria. Judging merit without accepting common criteria does not mean much (except that we all like to play by rules that allow us to win).

I ask myself this: if some, mostly objective and well-respected organization existed to rank NLP training institutions, how would I feel? Would I be willing to change what I teach or how I teach it so that I could "win" a competition and be "ranked first"? I think I am just as glad that choice does not exist. The field of NLP is so wide open that the only people judging relative merit do it without the benefit of shared criteria. They invent the rules that will allow them to win, and then judge everyone by those rules.

Instead of asking myself where I rank internationally, I ask myself: What can I do next that will leverage opportunities for the people who train with me and get better results more reliably across more different situations?"

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