Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Generalists Are Welcome!

ted videoWe live in the high era of the specialist. It is amazing what we have been able to accomplish by dedicating our lives to a single field and sub-field. We have put a man on the moon. We have conquered diseases. We have solved countless mysteries of our universe. But in spite of the compounding wealth we managed to gather, what has been the cost of such focus?

By compartmentalizing our purpose, by narrowing down our gifts, we have lost most of our identity as a whole human being, multi-faceted, complex and soulfully rich. The "Renaissance Man" is no longer an aspiration, perhaps not even considered a possibility. Stuck in one career, we doubt we have other options. Receiving accolades in one field, we erroneously believe we have been "successful" in life.

And here rests the unconditional importance of the liberal arts. Not as yet another area of expertise, but instead as a tool to equip us with the essential ability to think and to think broadly, across many fields and through many layers, giving us the capacity to cross pollinate, to see beyond and to be less of a servant.

And that is why I am posting this TED video. Below some quotes:

"In truth, liberal arts education no longer exists – at least genuine liberal arts education in this country. We have professionalized the liberal arts to the point when they no longer provide the breath of application and the enhanced capacity for civic engagement that is their signature. Over the past century the expert has dethroned the educated generalist to become sole model of intellectual accomplishment. Expertise had for sure its moments, but the price of its dominance is enormous. Subject matters are broken up into smaller and smaller pieces with increased emphasis on the technical and obscure."

"We cannot have a viable democracy made up of experts, zealots, politicians and spectators."

"So what do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Well you have two things. You have a mind and you have other people. Start with those and change the world."

Liz Coleman: A call to reinvent liberal arts education

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