As a college president and as a human being, I interact with a large number of people. As a result, I also have conversations with many individuals from all walks of life. In my interactions, conversations, readings, listening, and TV viewing, I have discovered that one thing that most people have is an opinion. I listen to people rant and rave about education, leadership, politics, conspiracy theories, decorum, race relations; you name it, I hear it. As I listen (I do more of that than talking), I always respond with caution, if I respond at all. Heeding my own advice that “sometimes the best response is silence”.
I have come to a very simple conclusion about opinions. There are simply certain areas or professions that everyone seems to have expertise in. First politics. While I do have political opinions, I am NOT a politician and do not pretend to know more than they do, so I do not engage in much political discourse because almost everybody seems to think they know more or better than the politicians.
Second is economics. I know quite a bit about economics, having earned a doctorate in the field. I taught economics for many years, presented and published and became a full professor of economics 20 years ago, in spite of that, I do not pretend to know it all. It is interesting that in my discourses with many who despite not knowing the difference between monetary and fiscal policy, claim to have all the answers to our economic problems.
Third is coaching. Everyone’s a coach, regardless of whether they know the game or even understand the rules. I coached youth, high school, and college soccer for many years. My teams won championships, but the parents who did not even understand the game were my worst critics. In all fairness to the parents, the vast majority were extremely supportive.
Last is education (did you see that coming?). Yes, we all have our opinions, but there is a reason why some of us are educators and some are not. Almost everyone out there seems to be an expert on the solutions to our education woes. If they walked one day in an educator’s shoes they would perhaps realize that it is not so easy. By the way, that goes for politicians, economists, coaches, and many other professions. This is all hard work and the individuals who work in these areas need our encouragement and support.