i am an excessively educated woman. i started school at age three, in pre-kindergarten, in the fall of 1984. i was in school without interruption until the spring of 2002 (for those keeping score at home, that's eighteen years). i took five years off to find myself, then went back in the fall of 2007. i am still here. four more years of education gives me a grand total of twenty-two years in school of a total of thirty years of life. i will have the following credentials when i am done:
1) a high school diploma, advanced with honors
2) international baccalaureate diploma, which means i took six tests at the end of twelfth grade, wrote a couple of papers and did some community service to earn an extra piece of paper that proves that i really, really learned a lot in high school
3) bachelor of arts degree, american history
4) juris doctor degree (my law degree)
5) graduate diploma in civil law (my special louisiana law diploma)
6) master of laws in taxation (my second law degree)
that'll make me magnolia, B.A., JD/DCL, LL.M., esq. that's an alphabet soup of credentials. i say all this not to brag on myself, but to pose a question. i've spent a lot of money and a TRUCKLOAD of time over my life attaining knowledge. book learnin', if you will. but why is it that this automatically makes me "smarter" than other people? i've had a couple of conversations over time with brilliant people who don't have these credentials. the basic idea that's been posed to me is, you have brains; i have wit. um, no; we both know that's not true, you have just as much "brains" as i do. but you've got the education, and that makes you smart.
does it? i mean, i'm not going to sit here and tell you all that i am not an intelligent person. i've learned a lot in my life, and i'm hungry to learn more, more, more. but what makes me smart isn't the fact that people in robes have handed me pieces of paper with categories on them. it's the fact that i think, i read, and i consider. you don't need special training to be smart. why don't we value intelligence gained in other ways? there are so many circumstances to consider as to why people don't tack the letters onto the back of their names. why is it that we've just decided that the one way to be "smart" is to do it? that's unfair, and it costs us a lot in terms of societal ignorance of people without these benchmarks.
i love my education. but there's more than one way to smart. we'd all be better off if we remembered that.