Monday, March 14, 2016

Specilaization: good or bad?

To me, the argument for promoting amateurs or promoting experts comes down to a question of specialization. Is specialization the best way for our civilization to operate?

Specialization has its modern roots in the Industrial revolution. Factory owners discovered that workers were much more efficient when they did the same task repetitively instead of switching tasks regularly.

Each worker therefore became specialized in their specific area and became really good at it. What do I mean when I say that they were "good" at their specific tasks? I mean that they became masters of the basics and the essentials of their tasks. As stated in an article by Zach Even-Ech about the differences between amateur athletes and expert athletes: "The amateur looks for the fancy exercises, the gimmicks, and follows the fads. The expert knows that he can develop strength, size, power and toughness with nothing but the simplest training tools and the basics." In lay-mans terms: experts are good at the basics.
Another difference that I have uncovered between experts and amateurs is that experts have a well defined direction in their pursuits, whereas amateurs often lack that direction.

I would relate this to someone who is learning to cook for the first time. What do they cook first? Do they start with dessert or breakfast? Should they learn to use a skillet or fire up the barbecue?
I would like to end my post today with what has come to be my most compelling reasoning for why we should promote experts above amateurs. When an amateur finally begins to do something truly remarkable, that proves that they have the capacity to become an expert in that field. They have demonstrated that they understand at least a few key core concepts in that specific area. This means that the door is open to learning new core concepts in that area and becoming an expert. Instead, many find the satisfaction that they were seeking from that one endeavor and leave it all behind to follow their next whim. Thus they waste the potential that they have in each an every field that they visit and rarely make a lasting and continuous impact on anything.
Instead of producing a lot of intellectual waste from a lot of different areas, I am in favor of promoting the individual elevation of comprehensive knowledge in less areas of expertise.

1 comment:

  1. Great topic Tommy! While I don't completely agree with you (my definitions of expert and amateur are slightly different), I began debating with myself (which indicates you present a great topic).

    Personally, I would love to see more development with your call to action. I'm interested. I just feel you gave me a cake and no fork to eat it with. Can't wait to see where this ends up!