Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Creative Generalist

The link above is to an article I found very inspiring, so I want to share it with other educators. Consider it my solstice gift to you.

I work in Adult Upgrading, where I've always called myself a "generalist". Working with adults who return to upgrade their academics, then complete secondary education, requires a kind of one-room-schoolhouse approach on the part of the educators. The learners are at all levels and enrolled in a wide range of subjects. Our task is to provide guidance for them -- to help them develop their own program and then to proceed with success. My belief has always been that I'm not there to teach them so much as to guide them into learning how to learn. As guide, I strive to maintain the overview for them, the bigger picture, and to help them determine how their expanding knowledge and opportunity can blossom within the context of their own lives and world.

In recent times, it seems a trend within education is to specialize; the word "generalist" and the concept of how a generalist works in the context of education has become unclear to many, has even lost favour. As this article says, "Specialization has a firm grasp on all of us....Niche interest has taken over--whether we like it or not....Specialization has taken hold of not only our schools but also of...." // "And for the most part, specialization is a positive thing because we are, in many cases, charting new and exciting territory."

In spite of, or rather in the context of, the above trend, reading this article reauthenticated and rekindled my belief in the merits of the generalist approach. You need to read it to understand why the author (and I too) believe that "Generalists hold the key to our increasingly specialized world."

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