[going to professional conferences] strikes me as a combination of empty credentialism and galavanting. There’s a reason medical conferences are held in exotic vacation spots (and it sure isn’t that those places offer the most effective learning conditions). And most K12 teachers are required to work toward and, eventually, earn masters degrees. But there’s no evidence this improves teaching performance (Arnold’s ‘null hypothesis’ definitely applies). It does, however, provide a pretext for ‘step increases’ in salaries.
I agree. In most cases, these conferences are simply perks. If you as an employer want me to learn, give me a challenging assignment. Going to a conference is not a challenging assignment.
The commenter continues,
The notion that every career should be characterized by a never-ending process of growth, learning, and personal fulfillment strikes me as one of those ideas that falls into the category of ‘social desirability bias’. It’s a ‘nice’ thing to believe. Although there’s a potential dark side, too — as with romance novels, it may tend to make people unhappy as their own lives and careers fail to measure up to the unrealistic ideal.
I am not thinking of growth as a perk. I think it is closer to a necessity. I think that there is a positive correlation (not perfect, to be sure) between jobs that are mundane and jobs that are at risk.