A Renaissance man or woman is also known as a polymath. In general, polymaths have interests in the arts and humanities as well as the sciences. A person with a well-rounded education may play a musical instrument or sing. They may create art or write. At the same time, they have a keen interest in fields such as mathematics, physics, chemistry or the biology of the natural world.
In our modern society, extreme specialty is rewarded. Specialists and surgeons are better compensated than general practitioners. Attorneys specializing in specific areas of the law, such as trademark and copyright law can receive higher salaries or fees than those with less specialized education.
While specialization alone will not lead to disaster, people seem to be focusing so exclusively on their specialty that they deprive themselves of a more general education.
More costly private and Ivy League universities emphasize the liberal arts. They teach people to think critically and to solve problems through deep thought and in creative ways.
Colleges such as Salt Lake Community College require a core of general education courses in the associate degree programs they offer. These courses broaden students’ outlook on the world and make them a little more into the polymaths of today.
The urgency with which people get their education today is narrowing their possibilities. People seem to be in a rush to get higher incomes at the expense of a complete education. Intellectual curiosity is not rewarded in American society.
Do not let our community colleges’ and public universities’ missions be to churn out mostly technical program graduates. Their sole purpose should not be to supply the economy with a middle class labor force.
Expect more from the education we are asked to pay so much for. Demand to have your mind bent and your world view challenged. Insist on really thinking.
If we celebrate curiosity and conversation, instead of memorization and flash cards, we will be the renaissance men and women of our generation.