IS IT GOOD TO KNOW A LITTLE ABOUT A LOT?

Depth of knowledge could be linked to social standing, not just achievement.


‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot’ – Albert Einstein‘

Most people these days know next to nothing about absolutely everything. Information is available in abundance, although, do we really ever take in much more than the superficial knowledge presented to us on our phone screens?

Young people are full enough of anxiety as it is. Add on top of this the struggle of trying to find where they belong and their subject specialisms and they are left lost, socially nomadic and no closer to making any sense of the mad world around them.

The traditional route in life is to go to school, pick the subject you think you are best at and then slog it out for three or four years at university. Some people spend the rest of their lives perfecting that single gear, but this may also come alongside a lack of independence. For instance, ask a modern chemist to fix their own computer or construct their own equipment and you will have them like a rabbit in the headlights. One gear stops turning and the whole system goes awry.


It can be easy to blindly believe that expertise is the highest value one can have. If you do put all your eggs in one basket and something unlucky or completely unpredictable happens, you lose everything. In these situations, what may be perceived as the ‘safest’ bet, can actually turn out to be the most insecure. Diversify and become a ‘jack of all trades’, however, and you could be ahead of the game.

A wide range of knowledge will become more advantageous as automation starts to take over. Having a narrower field of understanding could make you more ‘replaceable’, very easily putting you out of work.


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By ANNA ALFORD: ARTS Columnist


In no time at all, most of what you have spent your life perfecting can become obsolete.


Conversely, specialization may be necessary in order to reach different levels that Abraham Maslow described in his hierarchy of needs pyramid. Needs further down the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to motivations higher up. Right at the top of the pyramid is ‘self-actualization’ – these are self-fulfilment needs that involve accomplishing one’s full potential. Humans are innately curious and motivated to learn, and achieving your full potential may only come with years of study or practice of the same activity.

But you can’t just know about one thing. Not only will that often make you a dull conversationalist, but it averts you from connecting with others through your craft. Creativity often requires you to think multidimensionally, integrating multiple bodies of knowledge. The same can be said for science, where novel ideas are created by drawing parallels from different areas of old. Approaching things in this way keeps you open to all opportunities, without spreading yourself too thin.

So, don’t ever feel as if you have to become an expert at one single thing. Often the finest work materializes from those who attempt to appreciate everything they can, ergo fast-tracking themselves to the top of the pyramid.


MACKAYAN: ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE CREATIVE

MACKAYAN: KNOWING A LITTLE ABOUT A LOT

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