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Monday, December 7, 2009

Generalities About Specialization

Here's my idea about specialization and the mistaken notion of being a "generalist." Even if you are very specialized, you will still need a scholarly base of general knowledge. You will still have had a general education in college, and will have pursued other minor interests.

On the other hand, if you set out to be a generalist, you will have no focus. You can't set out to be an expert in everything, because the task is defined too diffusely. At best, you will know more about a few more things than the specialist does.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

The dedicated specialist is going to pick up all sorts of "outside" information along the way. This could be because of reading the New York Review, say (from which I know a great deal about American history or early Christianity, just to name two themes they seem to like and that also interest me). Or it could be from tangents pursued in the course of research, as in my knowledge (thin but grounded) of the history of zoos, which derived from my interest in how Doris Lessing describes animals in her work. The specialist's focus on the specialization may seem exclusive and hyperselective, but it is in fact inclusive, even voracious.