What do these three have in common?
- Tea-partiers who distrust experienced teachers and blame them for everything that’s wrong in education.
- Climate-deniers who distrust scientists.
- Republicans who prefer any of the three highest-polling candidates (Trump, Carson, Fiorina).
They’re all right-wingers, of course, but there’s something more important that all three groups have in common. They all reject the value of experience and intellect. Somehow they know better than the experts. Clearly the wisdom of experienced teachers, experienced scientists, and experienced politicians is worthless — apparently it’s better to have novices with no background at all. It’s anti-intellectualism at its worst.
Of course there are some experienced professionals who are incompetent. I’ll tell you a story about my first teaching job. After I had been there for a couple of months, I asked my department head why he had hired me as a teacher with no experience, when I had heard that he had done so rather than hire a candidate with 20 years of experience. “That guy,” he said, ”didn’t have 20 years of experience. He had one year of experience 20 times.”
So yes, experience isn’t everything. But it counts for something more often than not. That’s why seniority can mean something. Of course there’s deadwood in every field — but, everything else being equal, experience and wisdom can go together and are valuable.
Somehow I’ve avoided mentioning Donald Trump in this post…