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Let’s Hear it for the Experienced

Listening to the anti-bullying speeches given by the COOL kids—high school juniors and seniors participating in the academic after-school program for those who will be the first in their family to attend college—I wondered about our everlasting tendency to deny those with first-hand experience a voice in solving our problems.

The men and women who’ve survived homeless are a source of wisdom for us on how to end homelessness. The teenagers who have watched bullying, been bullied, and acted the bully are the ones with ideas on how to solve bullying in the schools.

Yet when we are putting together a committee on ending homelessness, a task force on stopping bullying, how often do we nominate for the coveted slots those with actual experience with the problem? Not often. Rather, we tend to turn to the trained, the educated, the ones with the degrees who are being paid to address the problems, as if their stature ensures, of course, they know what they’re talking about. I have no problem with using their help. I have a problem with relying on these types of folks to the exclusion of the experienced. When we do that, we let the wisdom of those on the front lines slip through our fingers.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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