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MY DIPLOMA – Photo by Carmela Cunningham

I don’t trust experts. I never have, and I doubt that I ever will.

Experts are the guardians of the common wisdom. They are captives of the group-think of the day. That’s the reason for which they go to school – to learn what they are supposed to believe. And most of them do exactly that.

When somebody tells me they have a PhD in Early Childhood Education, or Women’s Studies, or Psychology, or Creative Dance, I am immediately suspicious of everything they have to say, even though much of it may be true.

What is the old joke? A “specialist” is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.

I am also suspicious of people who went through elementary school, then high school, then college, and then they graduate and are officially anointed with a certificate (basically a piece of paper signed by some institute that charged them a lot of money) of expert-hood.

The secondary school system was created more than a hundred years ago to prepare workers for factories. A bell rings and you change classes, another bell rings and you go to recess, another bell rings and you eat lunch. It doesn’t matter if you are really excited about what you have just learned and want to hear more, when the bell rings you go on to the next assignment.

Today, it’s still the same old shuck and jive – although the world has changed completely in the meantime.

As you might guess, I really hated school, and I wasn’t too crazy about teachers.

And though at the end I was awarded a bachelor’s degree, my time spent at the University was mostly a waste. The only thing that saved me from the nonsense taught at college was the perspective I gained working construction, as a party chief on a survey crew, fighting in a war, and living life.

When I completed my time at the University, I skipped the whole stupid cap and gown ceremony. I told them to send me my degree and I split for California. I still have the degree and it’s still in the little shipping tube in which it was mailed 50 years ago.

So why do I still have it, stored in a tube in the back of the closet? To remind me, always, of what a waste of precious time it represents.

The point is that the overriding purpose of a formal education is to pigeonhole people into some kind of occupational box. I have talked to numerous successful people, who when pressed or drunk, would confess that what they really wanted to do was play the saxophone or create art or putter around in their garage inventing products that just might change the world.

It’s those dreamers and the workers that push civilization forward, not the university-indoctrinated “experts.”

At least that’s the way I see it.

George Lee Cunningham

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