The comments on my last post got me thinking about the phrase "specialisation is for insects" and whether on not this was true.
Bob (in comments) is correct when he stated that you really don't want brain surgery done by the local GP.
I think there is a place for specialisation. In many ways, this is what a career is all about. Becoming skilled in something so that you're employable. But even within these confines there's advantages to having a wide range of skills rather than just one. I see no reason why a brain surgeon shouldn't be able to bake a loaf of bread.
One of the benefits of having a wide range of skills is that pretty much no matter the economic circumstances there's a job that you can turn your hand to. You might need refresher course (or a bit of reading) to get up to speed with the latest developments in the area, but having a basic understanding of something is a good place to start from.
Or, if you are unemployed, you can do a lot of things that need doing without shelling out cash for an "expert" in the field.
Looking back over my working life the people I have most enjoyed working with and those I have the most respect for were those who were not only good at their jobs but who also had a wide range of knowledge, interest and skills of related and unrelated fields. I found these people stimulating and challenging to be around. The time spent on learning and acquiring skills did not detract from them mastering their primary specialities either.
I have also worked with people who are brilliant in their field, but have no idea of anything else. I find these people, on the whole, frustrating to work with and for. Mainly because they have such a narrow view of things they don't even understand how something "upstream" will affect their project. It's like (to pinch an analogy from Cajun) they turn on a light switch expecting the light to go on, with no understanding of the multiple stages the electricity needs to pass through to get there.
I guess most of you who work in the computer field have heard the "pack it up and take it back to the shop and tell them you're too stupid to own a computer" joke, well unfortunately, in my experience, this isn't that much of a joke.
I'm not sure the education system is to blame, or whether people have just lost the ability to be curious but it really seems that on the whole people don't look around and ask questions.
One of the things I love about spending time with my girls is the number of questions they ask. (It can also be frustrating too :) ). It seems as if they want to know the "why and how" of everything. I hope they never lose this desire to understand the world around them. This also serves to remind me of how little I know and how I should be looking at the world and asking the same questions.
I've often asked myself what "life skills" I need to pass onto the girls. And so far, the skills that we have decided are important for them are:
* Clear and articulate pronunciation
* Neat writing
* Ability to read music and play an instrument
* Ability to swim
* Development of a range of physical skills
* Ability to read a map and use a compass
* Ability to shoot a firearm
* Ability to cook basic meals
* Ability to do basic maths in their heads
* Basic computer skills
* Basic housework skills
* Care for an animal
* Behave in a restaurant
* Speak in public
* Speak a foreign language
* Write a letter
All of these the girls have or are actively developing.
In addition there's a few more I would like them to be able to do in the future
* Touch type
* Kill, skin and prepare a rabbit
* Navigate by stars
* Build a fire
* Basic knowledge of first aid
I think all those skills are important regardless of what career they choose. (There's probably more, but these are all that I can think of at the moment).
What about you. What skills do you want to pass onto your children (or think children of this generation and the next need to have)?