Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm Gonna be a Pro!

What makes somebody a professional? What about an expert? From my days (um, make that 7 years) in academia I learned that professors and graduate students are just people who did a lot of research. Half the time, they just did it because, hey, sometimes it's easier and more comfortable to stay in school for 10 years (and usually get paid for it) and then get a cushy professorship job, than it is to go get a 'real' job. There's a running joke in universities that many professors never left school and entered the 'real world'. And, it's kind of true. They know the theory, but can teach it without ever having actually applied it. (No offense to the world of academia. Loved it myself. I'm just saying...)

If you aren't familiar with academia, you may hold the opinion that professors and PhD's are pretty respectable and smart people. And, in a lot of ways, you would be right. When an agency or the government or a company is looking to develop new products or theories, guess who they go to? Yup. PhD's and professors. They do research. That's kind of their job. Whether they're engineers, educators, economists, or archaeologists, they are the experts because they do research about how things like airplanes, governments, and kids supposedly work... in general... with statistical significance... margin of error of +/- 5%... in the real world of engineering, politics, and psychology.

The word "professional", on the other hand, generally gives me the impression of someone who is an expert in practice as well as in theory. They not only know how things are supposed to work, but they actually put the theories to work. Basketball players, accountants, and doctors all have this in common: they studied the theory AND they apply it. Um, take that part about doctors out. Doctors are great and I'm very glad we have them, but sometimes I wish they would STOP quoting research and textbooks pages at me long enough to listen. Ok, I'm done with that rant. Back to the topic.

So, I was thinking the other day: what if I started pretending I was a "professor of parenting" or, better yet, a "professional parent" when I explain to people why I stay home with my kiddo? Hey, why not? It works for professors. I'll just do research and then quote it. After all, as I've read and heard it, research (as done by PhD's in the ivory halls of some university somewhere) says that it's positively best for a child to have strong and constant one-on-one bonding with a parent at least to the age of three. Similarly, even baby formula companies know that breast milk is the very best food for a baby (no surprise there, it is custom made to be a sole source of nourishment for a human baby, after all!). I'm sure if I researched some more I would find all kinds of peer-reviewed journal articles to explain why it's best that I'm home reading "Pat the Bunny" to my one- year- old instead of off somewhere writing a peer-reviewed article of my own.

Anyway, I thought it was a great idea. I'll be a professional parent. I'll gather information about the best way to do my job. I'll learn the theory and read books. I'll quote research articles and talk about how it works on a daily basis. Maybe I'll even get a dress suit and heels and wear them everyday...Uh, no, I'm not taking it that far. Anyway, I'll be a pro!

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