TED Conversations

Raheel Lakhani

Educational Technologist,

This conversation is closed.

Has specialization or focus on expertise been an advantage to us or a disadvantage?

In past, whether it was Greeks or the Muslim Empire, there was a lot of focus on eclectic knowledge. The main quest was for learning as a whole and not in different disciplines. Though a lot of categorization has come from that place, still they never concentrated on one categorization. They were well-versed in diverse things.

Is the fragmentation a sin of modern academia? or does specializations really help? how much is it needed and where/when we should avoid? Is jack of all a bad thing?

what are its implications of our education systems? what are its implications in decision-making in varied contexts?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 17 2011: Specialization leads to efficiency, and great experts, but a general knowledge base is necessary for a really successful life. I would argue that the greatest thinkers and visionaries of our time are sort of multi-specialists, people who can combine expert knowledge of various disciplines to produce something new and interesting. They are a sort of modern renaissance men and women.

    So, specialization, while important, is dangerous at its extremes just like anything else. Consider the cases of autistic-savants, who can memorize whole books in minutes, or tell you whether today's date in ten thousand years is a Sunday, but can't tie their shoes. If we specialize too much, we may find that we endanger our ability to interact outside the tiny area of our knowledge.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.