Do We Need an Expert view of Expertise?
One question I am frequently confronted with is about science books. Take any topic. Most of the books will be meant for the average reader and may contain all the information necessary for practical adaptation or exploitation of a concept by our society, thereby benefiting common good. Such books may be quite a few in numbers, its authors found to be from almost all walks of life.
But there may be a few books meant mainly for the experts, and referred frequently by those desiring to be one. Mostly such books examine one facet of the chosen topic and examine it from many perspectives, each vastly different from all the other ones. Such books may be few and far between, and the authors generally belong to what is popularly known as the academic community, sometimes called absent minded professors.
Have a closer look at the books that are cherished by the experts. Three things stand out.
One: All that is mentioned in these books get appreciated or applauded much, may be getting rewarded also handsomely. And, its authors basking in glory for many days to come.
Two: In some time, another book may appear, proposing a new set of principles to replace the things mentioned above. The new doctrine could even be in total opposition to the much celebrated, earlier ones. But this also will get appreciated and applauded much and, all those who were basking in glory for the earlier one, swiftly replaced by a new set of experts.
Three: The greater the impact, the introduction of the book made to our society, the smoother, its replacement by another new book. I can hardly remember of any desperation, our society evinced for want of certain things, or of the significant contributions made by a book, when it is being quietly displaced by another one. We even go to the extent of holding it responsible for much of our ills that necessitated the substitute. (The present outcry against chemical fertilizers, or the clamor for an antibiotic free living, amply demonstrates this)
The Major Difference
The book we saw at the beginning, one that was meant for the ordinary, continues to remain in its silent but effective use. Of course in a few cases, there might be a few, not so insubstantial changes.
What can we learn from this? Doesn’t this point to the need to change our understanding of the word ‘expertise’? That it is rather transcendental or dynamic in appearance, and liable to vagaries of time.
Already a similar idea is in the air, that we need to have a more inclusive education pattern with importance given to all aspects of character building, be it in class rooms, or in playgrounds, or elsewhere. This is one more reason to be so.
Where Do We Stand?
Experts Need Not be Correct
What We Can Do
One should excel not only in the class rooms, but also on the play grounds and all other places of interest. And for a healthy society, this should be made to happen naturally. I think we can ensure that, if we make certain changes to our idea of excellence, or whatever we are striving for.
What we are doing now, amounts to applauding talent in one particular field while overlooking all others. Instead of that, we can consider as great, whatever displays a wide spectrum of talents, simultaneously overlooking, any ability limited in its horizon.
Another reason to abstain from the extremes!