Expertise – There’s Nothing Like It

I have a friend – a massage therapist – who I have watched put herself through college and graduate school, studying art history.  This summer, she has her first teaching job: a professor of art history at a junior college.  Tonight, I chatted with her about what I saw at the Prado museum in Madrid.

I enjoyed the Prado, but talking with someone trained in the field is a completely different experience than wandering through a museum and reading the blurbs next to each painting.  She knew which artists influenced other artists, how the different approaches of the various “schools” evolved over time, and why the approach to art in southern Europe was different from the approach to art in northern Europe during the Reformation.

In short, she reminded me of how expertise in a subject deepens and broadens understanding.  Everyone has expertise in some areas, so all of the people that we know have deeper knowledge than we in some areas and we have deeper knowledge than they in others.  I think we should work to learn from those with expertise, and share our expertise with others – that way everyone’s knowledge grows.

We all become smarter.  We develop a better appreciation of those areas where we do not have expertise of our own.  In other words, modern life requires a village.

As my wife said – on our next trip we need to take along our friend as our personal art historian.


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