Admin O of An Opinionated World is sharing his thoughts on expertise via a mini-rant. Who doesn’t like an nicely opinionated mini-rant now and then? The question he’s tackling: Do you need a degree to be an expert? Does that happy little piece of paper make you legit? Take it away, Mr. O!
One of the reason I created my blog a year and a half ago was to voice my opinions, opinions that were sometimes listened to but not often considered valid because I am not an “expert” on the topic. I am amongst the many people who are ignored because the knowledge we speak was not taught to us for years in a classroom and later justified with a piece of paper that says we “passed” the subject. It greatly annoys me when a perfectly legitimate source of information is ignored because they don’t have a degree stating that they know what they are talking about, Why? Because it’s unfair and discrimination.
Why should the information I have be less legitimate than someone who learned similar if not the same information in a school? Yes it may have been taught to others by a teacher who has studied and trained for years to teach the subject and could be considered an expert, but it’s the same information. Disregarding it from one person and taking it from another is like not watching movies on a certain television because it’s white instead of black. A strange example I know, but it’s a very valid point and I don’t know why anyone would disagree with it.
Yes studying is a way to gain knowledge but not the only way to gain knowledge and what good is that knowledge if you have no way to use it. The minimum length it takes to gain a degree in any subject in most countries is three years and depending on what subject you are studying it can take up to ten years or even more. However it’s a little known fact that all that information obtained from X numbers of years studying can quite easily be wasted. A subject can be passed by memorising dates, facts and names and spitting these dates, facts and names back out when your teacher or exam requires you to and you can do so without understanding what you we’re taught. It may seem rather far fetched but all you REALLY need to do to gain a degree is to do enough to pass the subject and if you’re only JUST passing the subject, you’re not likely to gain nearly as much information as you would from doing as well as you can.
Three options can come out of obtaining your degree:
- You have done the best you can and you have gained a decent amount of knowledge.
- You understand, you try your best and obtain your degree but just by the bare minimum
- or you memorise lots of info, obtain your degree through getting rather good marks but understand very little of it.
Unless you drop out before one of the three happen, one of the three WILL happen and the likelihood you get the one good option instead of the two lesser options is far less than you would like it to be. Based off the fact that I have had this conversation many times with a number of people of which there is an equal grouping of people who do rather well and not so well in school and most of which share this opinion with me, I consider that a rather good argument.
Why does this mean so much to me? Admittedly I do not by any means do well in school. The only subjects I have ever done well at are English and Literature and on a few occasions I haven’t even done well at those subjects and due to that over time it has become quite commonly known that I am not a “smart person”. Although that is related to the problem at hand it is not that, that peeves me, it is the fact that because of it that my thoughts are ignored and considered illegitimate. Although I am not smart I do have common sense, I have the common sense to not argue what I don’t know and because I only argue what I do know I always make sure to know enough to be able to argue well enough to get my point across.
I know what I’m talking about when I talk about something publicly I know it without having to obtain any sort of degree. So I may not be an expert but this doesn’t mean my information is less legitimate or give you a good enough reason to ignore it.
I completely agree with Admin O! I think those that are self-taught are much more passionate about their subject matter because they’ve taken the time to study themselves and often they are more well rounded, better read and better able to research and learn on their own. It’s not just something they were assigned in school so they could gain a degree, it’s something the want to know to enrich themselves.
My friend Dana, a very successful blogger and entrepreneur of The Wonder Forest is of the same frame of mind. She doesn’t have a degree and is highly successful through learning all on her own. She has the drive to learn, the ability to stay the course, the creativity to determine direction and is therefore highly successful. She’s not afraid of “I don’t know”! That’s a hell of a lot better than sitting through a bunch of classes to gain a “degree” in something. She’s mentioned this to me before: Why spend all that money on a degree when you can learn on your own? She’s a huge believer of not letting anything hold you back. You are capable. The information is at your fingertips. All you need to do is reach out and grab it. You don’t need a degree for that!
Also, Admin O, don’t let anyone assume or think you’re not a smart person! Doing well in school is a scam! Having common sense and learning on your own about things that excite you is just as legitimate a path to success or personal happiness. I applaud you for starting a blog and voicing things you are knowledgeable about. Keep it up!