I'm not an idiot.
Even if you count all of those times I couldn't find my keys, and the bad fashion decisions I made in the 80s, and even that time I believed the kids when they told me they didn't know why the cat was in the refrigerator... it's still not enough to grant me idiot status. I'm a pretty astute individual. I pay attention. I know how to use (most) of my brain.
I recently had a couple of articles I wrote featured on The Mind Unleashed, articles criticizing the public school system (5 Things You Didn't Know Your Children Are Learning In School and 5 Ways to Make Children Hate Reading just in case you were curious). While there were some lovely people who messaged me about some of their own (or their children's) school experiences with support and encouragement, there were also a lot of very negative comments (if by negative I mean comments that insult not only my intelligence but my writing ability, my parenting skills, my genealogy, and the air I breathe... which I do. People on the internet can be so MEAN!)
They are right, of course. I'm no "expert". While I do have more than fourteen years of experience educating my own kids and I've spent countless hours researching pedagogy and educational theory (because these are MY kids and there's no scapegoat should I completely screw them up) and I spent 13 years in the system as a student myself (I'm also married to a teacher with more than twenty years of classroom experience, but like someone so astutely pointed out, "Being married to an astrophysicist doesn't make you an astrophysicist."), I'm not a licensed teacher and I don't hold a degree in education.
As more than one person angrily pointed out, I'm not an expert.
What is an "expert" anyway? In most fields, the experts are the ones who graduate from pre-approved degree programs after writing pre-approved dissertations and passing pre-approved exams and being licensed by pre-approved boards manned by other pre-approved experts. Expert opinions have already been programmed by pre-approved popular belief systems.
There's a reason that any doctor who speaks out against vaccines or chemotherapy or pharmaceutical therapies or any other standard of practice loses their medical license. Questioning and criticism of the accepted system isn't allowed. Dissent isn't allowed. Experts walk in straight lines and only recite the accepted scripts. Before you jump to conclusions about quackery and dangerous violations of standards of care, let me remind you that hand washing was once scoffed at by the established experts. (Poor Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis offended his peers by suggesting they could save lives by simply washing their hands between patients. He was tossed in an insane asylum where he was beaten to death by guards. It wasn't until years after his tragic death that his hand-washing practice gained widespread acceptance in the medical community. How many more easily preventable deaths occurred in the interim because it wasn't accepted by the "experts"?)
It happens in politics and economics and education as well. The experts are often wrong, but still anyone with a differing viewpoint is labeled a crackpot. Being considered an expert isn't necessarily about skill or competence, and it certainly has nothing to do with reform or innovation. Being an expert is more often about fitting in and getting along, about repeating the standard ways of doing and thinking, about not rocking the boat.
It shouldn't be a surprise that the "experts", the people who are taken seriously, are the ones who tell us what we want to hear (or at least what the people with money and influence want us to hear). The "expert" opinions that make it into news stories and governmental policies and medical standards of practice have been screened and cherry-picked to spoon-feed the general public pre-approved information - information most often stemming from those with financial interests in the outcome.
The entire system of expertise- from the news media to research institutes to professional boards to institutions of higher education - largely serve the corporations that fund them. There's a reason that education reform largely revolves around more testing, but most people aren't aware just how deep the influence of companies like Pearson and McGraw Hill runs (companies which control everything from textbooks to teacher certification. It's probably in their best interest to control what the "experts" in education say about the system, and they do... the "experts" have to pass their test in order to actually be considered "experts")
It should be expected that experts sell us on coal as a clean energy source, or vaccines being safe and effective, or bankers being innocent in financial crises, or the safety of GMOs, or the need for more testing to determine teacher effectiveness. It's up to us to be skeptical, not just of the "truths" the experts spew, but of the experts themselves... the whole expert-making process is questionable when there's control and money and power bubbling under the surface of the whole shaky structure.
And likewise, just because a message isn't flowing from the mouths of the accepted authorities, doesn't mean the message is one we should so flippantly and readily dismiss.
No, I'm not an expert. My opinions and conclusions come from my own research, observations, and rational assessment of inadequate outcomes (that's a nice way of saying "system failures"), all peppered with a healthy dose of skepticism and critical thinking (neither of which came from my public school education).
Just because I'm not spouting the pre-approved rhetoric of the pre-approved "experts" doesn't mean I'm an idiot. It just means I'm thinking... no approval required.