The Similarities of Einstein, Darwin, Elon Musk, and Tompi
Tim Hartford (Economist) talking about unlocking natural creativity. He argues about the existence of multi-tasker like Einstein, Darwin, Twyla Tharp and how each of them is unique on their own but share a similar trait. They multitask. All of them were working on different projects throughout their life. They weren’t stuck on just one field but manage to expand their expertise to many other different fields. What is interesting is that eventhough Darwin, Einstein and etc are one of kind and undeniably amazing individual, their trait of being a multitasker is quite common.
It reminds of me of an article about Elon Musk and expert generalist. The terms Expert generalist is quite paradoxical. By traditional definition and expert is someone who has depth understanding of their respective field. Then how can one become an expert if you have multiple disciplines to master. How many times does it takes to master them all. How much effort should you put.
Orit Gadiesh, the first one to coin out this term, believes that it can be achieved. She defines Expert Generalist as a person who has enough curiosity and ability to master multiple disciplines, skill, industries, topics, and etc. She further explained that this person is able to draw conclusion from diverse knowledge and see patterns in them. Sounds like a very difficult thing to do isn’t it?
However, to become a multi-tasker is often seen as a way to rush things out, to do many things altogether so they can be finished in the shortest possible time. This is where people got it all wrong says Tim. He proposed the idea of Slow-motion multi-tasking. He argues that it is true that people like Einstein, Darwin, and Elon Musk are no ordinary people but they didn’t learn all the things they know in a single night. It takes years before Einstein was able to complete his general relativity Theory. Darwin published origin of species in 1859 and on the opening note of the that book he said he began working on it in 1837. Both were working on numerous different other object at the same time and during their lifetime period. So Instead of rushing things out why don’t we just slow it down.
Considering this, the way we approach education should also be gradually shifting. We need to acknowledge a potential of a child being a polymorph, literally full of potential. Not just in a sense that a child can potentially be anything but also many things at the same time.
Why it matters?
It is not often that one product of science or technology is inspired by other fields. Japan Bullet train, needles, Velcro, turbine and etc. (it is a very long list). Then if what is seemingly unrelated things like a kingfisher can inspires people to make the fastest train ever built, a beehive inspires people to make a tower, and etc., imagine the possibilities of these multi-taskers might be able to achieve if given time. The world needs more people who can see patterns in all things, who can draw conclusion form multi-perspective, whose mind so diverse that crazy ideas just pop up inside their brain wildly.
Irina Kareva, a mathematician, shares her experience on creating an equation that might be able to explain and even predict the interaction between cells, immune system, and cancer cell. Being able to do this will help us fight the cancer cell without dangering the host and at the end lives can be saved.
However, it is still believed that being an expert in one field is sufficient enough and I’m not saying that is wrong though. I’m saying that we need to open up to a possibility. Schools begin to filter the students as early as secondary school, and then later on at the end they are going to end up choosing major in university then looking for a job which suits their major. Some of them probably are going to specify their expertise into the sub-branch of their major. This a very common train of thoughts. Once again, i’m not saying that this is wrong though.
This school of thought is reflected deep inside the educational system and believed by people. This is the reason why we have science, social, and language division in school. This the reason why we have art school, Nursing school, and etc. This is probably the reason why once you become a doctor, you don’t want to be a photographer, or maybe a singer at the same time. This also probably a reason why once you make company dealing with online payment, you don’t want to venture to space exploration, automobile, and Civil engineering.
Education system and People in general need to gradually open up to this possibility. It may takes years to master multiple disciplines and school might not be enough to live up this expectation. However as a first formal institution that a child go through, schools need to be aware of that not only people have different intelligence (see Gardner Theory of multiple Intelligence) but also they might have multiple potential.