Today, we live in a world that is so focused on shaping us into people who are mediocre at everything but masters of nothing. This jack-of-all-trades mentality is something we participate in from a young age, before we are even aware that that’s what is going on. As young children we take classes on every subject matter, including math, English, science, history, music, art, physical education, and more. More than likely our parents enrolled us in various extra-curricular activities outside of school to further our skills development and to encourage us to develop some hobbies.
Being well-rounded is not a completely bad thing, but it is definitely different from how things were done in past. For generations, people focused their learning on one trade, skill, or interest until they mastered it.
By encouraging us to be well-rounded, I think we are losing some of our individuality and the chance to pursue unique interests. College admission boards and job interview committees often say they want to see candidates who are unique, however our society does not encourage this uniqueness. Like a group of cattle, we are all treated and taught the exact same way.
But the problems of being well-rounded run even deeper than that. Here are two examples of how being well-rounded might be a detriment to society.
The better-rounded we’ve become, the less our society seems to know about some of the most basic skills that our grandparents possessed. Things like being able to sew, fix shoes, weld metal, basic carpentry, and more are all but lost skills to my generation.
This means that we’ve become a society that relies on other people (or machines and technology) to do these things for us. It also means that we’ve become more likely to throw things away and buy new, rather than find ways fix them. In addition to polluting the earth, this habit wastes time, money, and natural resources to create more products that we really don’t need.
Not to open up a can of worms, but in addition to the skills we’ve lost, some of the best and brightest among us are being held back from their full potential. I think this is a symptom of us trying to be politically correct by encouraging everyone to be well-rounded. Although it may help some, I feel like we are trying to even the playing field by dragging others down.
For example, take education bills like No Child Left Behind. These were likely created with the best of intentions, but in practice they simply made some children feel bad about their naturally slower-paced learning. In addition, the law made other children become bored and unruly due to their natural tendency to pick up on new concepts much quicker.
In complete honesty a bill like No Child Left Behind was doomed to failure from the beginning. No matter how much we try to encourage it, no two people are skilled in the same areas or to the same degree.
Just think how much farther ahead our world could be if some of the brightest members were allowed to excel independently from a young age.
Can you think of any other problems associated with our society’s tendency to encourage all people to be well-rounded?