2/10/11

How experts can be like quitters (sometimes)


I went to a very fun birthday party last week at a Karate studio and there were signs everywhere that read "never quit." As an art teacher I have come to many crossroads where kids who think they can't do the work, and simply quit. I always give them a small pep talk consisting of how experts are not born, they try and fail, try and fail many times before they become an expert, so to stop now means they have chosen to stop growing. But the opposite can be just as detrimental. Someone who thinks they know everything, someone like an expert, has also quit; quit learning, quit being open, quit growing inside.

I have run across several 'experts' just this week who seem so convinced in their positions that no matter what the circumstances they will not open their mind to other possibilities or ideas. Too often these people who think themselves 'experts' at something mistakenly think they have done all the knowledge absorption there is to soak up in their field and think they can can now just sit back and bask in their enormous breadth of knowledge. My question here would be, how is this predicament different from a quitter? In essence aren't they both in the same type of space, no longer growing, no longer opened to life and all its possibilities, totally stuck?

The current version of a successful expert in any given field is someone who has reached the apex of knowledge. We don't dare question these people for fear of being shot back to our rightful place or of having our own ignorance harshly revealed to all. Too often when we meet an expert our experience of them is of a closed individual, too often unable to authentically work with others who they think may not be equal in category; in essence they have stopped growing and have become closed to change, closed to being affected, sadly stuck. Most of us, I'm sure, have experienced trying to argue with a doctor's decision, a contentious conversation at best.

I propose a different, 21st century definition for an expert. The definition of an expert should be someone who has honed down a system of soaking up knowledge in their field from every incident, every conversation, every experience that all of life then becomes a rich ground for learning and making more infinite connections. In this definition of an expert, the knowledge base can be multiplied over the years without a finite end. We all have met these amazing forms of experts too. I aim to find these experts in the field of education and education policy and learn all I can from them. People that make me want to grow, be more open and live and rise to higher frequencies.

So to quitters and experts alike I say, 'never quit, don't give up' (on growing from within).

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