Parents always dissuade kids from playing at the intersection of two streets for good reasons.
It’s not safe.
But for some reason the school system is set up to define separate blocks – classes – for specific subjects such as English, Math, Science, Computer…You can’t understand math problems unless your English is good, and nowadays Computer Education is in every class- and if it’s not, then it should be.
But classes that combine two main focuses happen by chance, not be design.
Move on to higher level classes and you still have different concentrations. If you go to university, maybe you’ll graduate with a bachelor of science in Chemical Engineering(CHE), Mechanical Engineering or Aeronautical…
As part of our CHE curriculum, we had to take a compulsory course called Electric Circuits. It was designed for non-Electrical (ELE) students, and yet just because it was an ELE course, we were disengaged. We were so disengaged I remember a student who was seated behind me, wearing a cap, looking down at a textbook that lay open on the desk the whole class.
Even after the class was dismissed, he was still in the same position.
Because of course, he was fast asleep.
There’s the argument that says you need to focus on a certain field before you begin to branch out, but the problem with that is psychological if nothing else. The moment you define yourself inside a box, everything outside that box stops being your concern, and that’s where most problems get solved; outside that box.
That’s why I love Seth Godin’s simple mantra for parents; Teach your kids to solve interesting problems and lead.
He doesn’t say, let them focus on a single field and become experts at it. That’s what PhD’s are supposed to be for. Most interesting problems we face as a generation are interdisciplinary.
In James Altucher’s article, Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastery, he writes, “ I ask almost every master I encounter, in every field, how much time per day do they spend mastering their field.
They did not give the standard Silicon Valley BS Entrepreneur answer: “I work 20 hours a day and if I didn’t need to sleep I’d work 30 hours a day”.
The typical answer is: “I study four hours a day”.”
That’s 4 hours out of 24. Or 16.67 % of your day.
If you focus on two fields, that makes up the typical workday – 8 hours.
But that’s four hours of dedicated deliberate practice, and not refreshing facebook,opening twitter and checking email. In the end, it’s the quality of the hours spent that matter.
Personally, that’s why I like online courses like the Green brothers’ Crash Courses on youtube or Coursera…You don’t have to sit through everything to get that one piece of info you might really need to solve your problem. You can skip videos, fast-forward, until you get what you need. The educational platform is there to support you, help you solve your problems, and not to dictate your life.
What are your opinions on this topic? Tweet me @ahechoes.
Also, check out my short story collection, “All Bleeding Stops and Other Short Stories from the Kenyan Coast” and subscribe to the newsletter.