Just came across a great article on CNN by historian Dr. Theodore Zeldin about “a new kind of conversation”. Dr. Zeldin proposes that people are learning to be too specialized, and this is a root cause of our unhappiness. He suggests that we have conversations with strangers about our beliefs and our dreams in order to determine what we truly want out of life–that we focus on generalizations, a holistic picture, rather than specifics, so that we can achieve a more well-rounded world view.
This particular section really struck me:
Education — bachelor, master, doctor — is organized to make you ever more specialist and often incomprehensible.
Specialization seldom gives wisdom. Join instead the newly invented postgraduate course that uses conversation to make people generalists and not just specialists, giving them broader sensitivities, and an understanding of how different occupations and cultures think.
Participating in the intellectual adventures of other disciplines is a purge for arrogance.
I have instinctively avoided specialization for some time now. Whenever I think about what kind of job I would like to have, I ultimately see myself walking down a narrow corridor, trapping myself on one route, eliminating thousands of other options. That prospect has always terrified me into inaction. Is there a way to generalize, to keep my options open, to “participate in the intellectual adventures of other disciplines”…and still put food on the table? Or will I have to give in and specialize at least a little in order to survive in this economy?