Our Obsession With ‘Expertise’ Is Holding Us Back
You don’t need a credential to create useful work
There are many instances where a credential — like a certificate, a license, or a degree — is essential. Nobody wants a knee surgeon who learned the craft by watching YouTube videos. But you don’t need a permit to speak up, to solve an interesting problem, or to lead. You don’t need a degree to write a lyric, or take responsibility, either.
You don’t need “expertise” to create useful work.
The modern credentialing system was designed to maintain the consistency of our industrial output. But over time, that system has expanded to create a roadblock. By relying on certificates and degrees to confer expertise, we slow down people who would otherwise make change happen by trying things out.
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Think about the leaders you most respect, in any field. Find out what got them where they are. Was it a degree? Or did they get things done by simply doing the work?
The curse of institutions
There’s a myth that a “famous college” is the same thing as a “good college.” But there’s no evidence that the quality of an education depends on whether or not an institution is well-known.
Famous colleges rely on a perception of scarcity. We think “it’s hard to get into those schools,” and therefore value their credentials more. Our cooperation and belief is what builds their reputation. In exchange, we can see a degree from a famous school as a status symbol. They’re only famous because we want them to be famous. We want them to be famous because our society places greater value on credentials than ability.
From an early age, high achievers are taught to sacrifice independent thought for a good grade. We’re taught that compliance will be rewarded by “being picked.” And the biggest pick for many kids is the approval that comes from gaining admission into a famous college.