Don’t Be A Generalist

Something that I have been struggling with lately is this idea of who am I? Not as a person per se, but more of as an educator. I have been reading all types of books, magazines, blogs, research articles, etc. to expand my thinking and more importantly to challenge my own thinking.  Through this reading as well as my new projects to learn new things I have started to think about what is it that I want people to think of when they reach out to me for help or guidance in education.

After some powerful conversations with some educators about website design and in particular my own I realize that I need to give some clarity and focus to what I am an “expert” in. I use that word lightly because I don’t feel that I am an expert in any field, but there are things that I know pretty well that I could help others in getting started.

This summer has my head spinning. I realized that I don’t want to be a generalist. This whole idea of being a jack of all trades is such a fallacy. It is a lie we tell our students that they need to be well rounded and a lie we tell ourselves. The reason we tell ourselves to be a generalist is that it is much easier to be mediocre in a bunch of things rather than excelling in one or a few fields.

Think about it.

When you go to a doctor for life saving operation like cancer or your heart would you rather

A. Go see a doctor who practices pediatrics, physical therapy, mental health, and whatever else you want to fill in OR

B. A doctor who specializes in your field and has a history of performing the necessary operations needed to allow you to survive

I think we need to be honest with ourselves and students and help find their niche in life. This is not to suggest that we don’t expose them to other ideas, skills, and concepts. Rather, help them chart their path. More importantly, as educators we have to do the same. We must embrace what we are really good at and then find other educators who can help us enhance our weaker areas.

As the quote suggests, 

Celebrate what you are good at. Embrace it. Make it better. Don’t be content just being average across the board. To be mediocre is no longer acceptable. We don’t expect this of our students so don’t expect this of yourself.

Now, I just need to figure out what it is that will move me above the life of a generalist.

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One thought on “Don’t Be A Generalist

  1. I think over time we all become generalists. We should always strive to become expert at what we do but as we move through time we accumulate a vast amount of knowledge. Also mastering any subject will require a broad range of knowledge. An auto mechanic is a good example. If you think of all the systems that go into an automobile, a mechanic has to know how all of these work in order to make a diagnosis.