I’m definitely a generalist. I have a lot of interests and always wanting to learn. The downside is that having so many varied interests can be frustrating trying to keep current.
David Epstein, writing in the New York Times:
Are you a generalist or a specialist? Do you strive for breadth or depth in your career, in your life? After all, you can’t have both. Your time on earth is finite, as are your energy and attention. If you concentrate on doing one thing, you might have a chance of doing it really well. If you seek to do many things, you’ll taste a wider variety of human goods, but you may end up a well-rounded mediocrity — a dilettante.
Folk wisdom holds the trade-off between breadth and depth to be a cruel one: “jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” and so forth. And a lot of thinking in current pop-psychology agrees. To attain genuine excellence in any area — sports, music, science, whatever — you have to specialize, and specialize early: That’s the message. If you don’t, others will have a head start on you in the 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” supposedly necessary for breakout achievement.
But this message is perversely wrong — so David Epstein seeks to persuade us in “Range.” Becoming a champion, a virtuoso or a Nobel laureate does not require early and narrow specialization. Quite the contrary in many cases. Breadth is the ally of depth, not its enemy. In the most rewarding domains of life, generalists are better positioned than specialists to excel.
When students come into Dan Levitin’s lab, he spends most of his time trying to teach them that they don’t know everything they think they do. “Knowledge can only be created in an environment where we’re open to the possibility that we’re wrong,” he says. Levitin shares his humble opinion on the best way to help students.
We are not taking time to think about and examine what we are reading. We are hardly taking the time to read past the headlines. It’s having a dramatic effect on us.
We need to cultivate the capacity for deeper forms of thought and critical analysis. To do otherwise is to become susceptible to other people’s views and wishes. This is how we become less self-reliant and less able to discern what is true and what is not.
Without critical thought, whomever screams the loudest will therefore get our attention. Sleazy salespeople and fraudsters will successfully sell us snake oil and empty promises.
We do not err as a society when we innovate, but when we ignore what we disrupt or diminish while innovating. In this hinge moment between print and digital cultures, society needs to confront what is diminishing in the expert reading circuit, what our children and older students are not developing, and what we can do about it.
We know from research that the reading circuit is not given to human beings through a genetic blueprint like vision or language; it needs an environment to develop. Further, it will adapt to that environment’s requirements – from different writing systems to the characteristics of whatever medium is used. If the dominant medium advantages processes that are fast, multi-task oriented and well-suited for large volumes of information, like the current digital medium, so will the reading circuit. As UCLA psychologist Patricia Greenfield writes, the result is that less attention and time will be allocated to slower, time-demanding deep reading processes, like inference, critical analysis and empathy, all of which are indispensable to learning at any age.
New York University will offer a scholarship that covers tuition to every new, current and future medical student, it said Thursday.
All students enrolled in the MD degree program are eligible, regardless of their financial need or academic performance. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, which this year amounts to $55,018.
The NYU School of Medicine is the first top 10-ranked medical school to make tuition free, the school said. There are currently 442 students enrolled, including the 102 new students entering this fall semester. They learned they would be receiving the scholarship at Thursday’s white coat ceremony, which marks the beginning of their careers in medicine.
U.S. News & World Report has released their annual “Best Countries” index.
They evaluated 80 countries and surveyed 21,000 people from four regions (the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa). Countries were graded 65 different ways, from how well they rank in “citizenship,” “cultural influence,” “education,” “heritage,” “power,” to “quality of life,” to name a few.
Interestingly, both the UK and the USA are down one position in this year’s rankings.
French schoolchildren will have to leave their smartphones switched off or at home as the new academic year begins in September, after lawmakers voted for a ban on Monday.
The ban on smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, which will apply to pupils up to the age of 14-15, fulfils a campaign promise by centrist President Emmanuel Macron, while being derided as “cosmetic” by the opposition.
This week, Barack Obama is travelling to Africa for the first time since he left office.
In South Africa, the Obama Foundation will convene 200 extraordinary young leaders from across the continent and I’ll deliver a speech to mark the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.
In preparation for the trip, Mr. Obama wanted to share a list of books that I’d recommend for summer reading, including some from a number of Africa’s best writers and thinkers.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
A true classic of world literature, this novel paints a picture of traditional society wrestling with the arrival of foreign influence, from Christian missionaries to British colonialism. A masterpiece that has inspired generations of writers in Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world.
The new Education Minister, Lisa Thompson, announced Wednesday that schools in the fall would go back to teaching the 1998 curriculum, which predates same-sex marriage in Canada by seven years, and doesn’t include topics like cyber-bullying, social media or LGTBQ issues.
Instead, stay curious. Stay flexible. Look for opportunities for personal growth.
O’Keefe warns that the directive to “find your passion” suggests a passive process. Telling people to develop their passion, however, suggests an active one that depends on us—and allows that it can be challenging to pursue. This, the psychologist says, “is a realistic way of thinking.”
Instead of looking for a magic bullet, that one thing you must be meant to do even though you don’t know what it is yet, it can be more productive to perceive interests flexibly, as potentially endless. A growth mindset, rather than a fixed sense that there’s one interest you should pursue single-mindedly, improves the chances of finding your passion—and having the will to master it. This approach will also inform your work by providing additional perspectives gleaned through multiple interests, O’Keefe tells Quartz.