The King’s Speech

Spoiler Alert–I’m about to give away something in this movie.

I went to see the King’s Speech over the weekend. In the film Lionel Logue, King George VI’s speech instructor is called to task for not being a certified speech therapist. In the movie you see that therapists are not working for King George, but he has success with Logue, who though not certified has a good deal of field experience.

This is Joseph Pilates story. He was a master at what he did, but never had a formal education. He was self taught. He worked with the body and learned via actual experience. But, just as in the movie, there was a point in his life, after years of helping people that his validity was called into question. I vaguely recall reading an article by one of the pilates elders that explained that he was extremely offended not to be taken seriously just because he didn’t have a degree in the body or medicine. I think they mentioned that it drove him to drink, but I may be remembering wrong.

But does a certification matter today?

It’s a useful tool to provide a standard everyone can follow, but in truth, I don’t believe you have to be certified in order to be a good instructor (and I say that as someone who has paid a lot of money and devoted a lot of time to get certified and maintain my certification).

But a certification does not equal a good teacher. And, truthfully I have learned so much in moments that had nothing to do with my certification work. I learn when I’m teaching, when I watch the way people are doing the exercises, when I take a class from another instructor, when I train with the elders, when I take a class that isn’t pilates, when I read a book about one muscle or read a magazine article about fitness trends.

I really don’t think a piece of paper actually qualifies someone or makes someone good at something. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good to have the paper, but what makes you good is your passion, your skill, your expertise, and your desire to keep learning–some of that can be gained from certification classes, but not all, and truthfully, not the stuff that really counts–not the passion or the desire.

In the end, if you find someone who is good and serving you well, it seems to me their level of education shouldn’t really determine whether they are right for you or not. The questions should be: Do they do the job well and safely?


About the Author:

Maggie Downie
Thank you for giving your time to stop and read my blog. I hope it encourages you to keep moving. Move and the body will be happier. And when you're moving you can hike, run, swim in Jell-O, race over non-Newtonian fluids, travel the world or build igloos--if that's your thing. If not, you can watch me do it. This is just a spot to try and feel good about life.


  1. Sarah AtoZ January 15, 2011 at 12:01 am - Reply

    I loved this post, and I totally agree with you. In my field, it’s the same too; I’ve seen plenty of people who have their master’s degrees, or even licenses in my field, and it doesn’t make them a good social worker! Also neat to read about Joseph Pilates; I didn’t know he hadn’t had any formal training. Just goes to show you how far passion can take you!

  2. Anonymous January 19, 2011 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Totally agree! One of the problems with education is the requirements necessary to “earn” certification in any field. So many requirements do not enhance the quality of learning and then “turn off” the student. You are so right about PASSION. It’s the motivator that replaces every bribe. 🙂

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