14 Feb 2015
When interests are wide open, and occupational necessities allow for it, one can explore many diverse fields of study at once, but what are the shortcomings of this? (Question following…)
Information has been accumulated over roughly 6,000 years of recorded human history. Our records, going back to ancient Mesopotamian Cuneiform pictorial script give us knowledge that we didn’t previously know. Of course, as we were not there with the ancient Mesopotamians when they wrote it, we must naturally be skeptical. We have, thus created several measures for validating ancient and questionably records, in order to be able to lean on them as sources of historical and/or truthful accuracy. With studying different cultures though, we get with their bland daily records also their philosophies of theism, science, entertainment narratives, mythology, and perception of their geographical neighbors. This is why one cultures written record is not good enough to understand the history of the region, the empirical world, or methods of measurement.
Today, it is said that we stand on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us. Of course, it is assumed that we look back at the context briefly before immediately advancing on with their theories. They may have overlooked even little mistakes, and without correctly them, or even acknowledging them, will create a larger bump in the road later to be stumbled over. But as more accumulation and organization of information is delivered the posterities of society, the practical application of the particular subjects is often the best teacher. Many subjects today enjoy very vast reservoirs of study, requiring many prerequisites in order to even comprehend and appreciate the depths, and best being able to assimilate practical methods with theory.
Often, the typical course of education today is to get the basics by way of primary school, which generally
prepare individuals for life, both academically, and hopefully also morally. Learning continues to happen as life goes on, no matter where someone goes, but the level of discovery is dependent upon the paths chosen. For those who chose to go on to higher education, certain prerequisites are generally given prior to more specific advanced courses and endeavors. The further one goes, the more they tend to find a direct that best suits them, for whatever reason, and stick with it. They begin to take on an exhaustive comprehension of the subject matter. They hold much of what the past has accumulated in that field of study. They may also choose a second subject of study, with less focus. Some choose to pursue two fields of study simultaneously, termed a “double major” in university jargon.
But there is another direction that is being taken by many today that is deviating from the traditional norm. These are of the group autodidactism, or self-educators. It is not a new approach to learning, but it is taking a new interest as more information becomes available, access to it becomes easier, and the individuals are appropriately prepared for the self-induced labor. Without a direct need for practical application, one can take on the study of several subjects of interest as he sees fit, and fill in the comprehension gaps he has on the matters he was originally inquisitive of. Of course, he must continue to be able to fulfill his daily duties with full satisfaction, if not in excellence, continuing to do it better and more efficiently than before. But his free time can lend to taking in information that will help answer the more subtle questions of his mind.
Juggling Greater Depths
The difficulty with taking on the greater depths of information about any one subject is that each requires more dedicated time and effort in order to secure a long-term comprehension of the material. Not only this, but maintaining the theories, (aside from their appropriate applications) requires continued revisits of the subjects. If visits into these fields are not consistent, the information will become fuzzy, being buried under other information of more pressing material receiving intellectual energy. Of course, eventually enough comprehension of a particular subject hopefully does develop, and more energy is put in that direction, but several subjects are now marginally comprehended to justify a continued pursuit of those subjects of study on an on-going basis. This is especially the case if the extra-curricular studies offer supplementary depth to direct occupational matters…
So the question is, is it often seen in history where individuals have arrived at an advanced state of comprehension in their field by slowly-but-surely haphazardly filling the gaps. If learning is a difficult process for such individuals, is intellectual cross-training a viable route? Is this a safe way to reach an exhaustive (or near exhaustive) comprehension of a subject?