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Lesson Plans


The Return of the Renaissance ("Generalist") Citizen

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Lawrence A. Parker/OCCTI (occti)
Thu, 26 Aug 1999 08:38:09 -0400


WORTH THINKING ABOUT: THE FUTURE OF GENERALISTS

"Anthropologists have identified a number of characteristics that seem
common to most non-technological societies past and present. These
societies tend to value practical rather than abstract knowledge, their
'primitive' rituals are part of the regular day-to-day realities of life,
the groups tend not to support specialists other than the shaman, every
member of the group can to some extent do every task, and all share the
responsibility for all others. Principally, the 'primitive' takes a holist
view of life that examines all social decisions for their effect on the
community and the environment.
"These social values may fit well in the webbed communities of the
mid-twenty-first century because they are more appropriate to small,
relatively simple social structures that up to now had seemed to be
disappearing... For such communities, the most valuable skills would be
generalist rather than specialist. They would prize the ability to connect,
to think imaginatively, to understand how data are related, to see patterns
in machine-generated innovation, and to assess its social effect before
releasing it on society...
"Today, billions of human talents could be on the verge of
self-expression if we are willing to take new views and see where they might
lead us."

James Burke & Robert Ornstein" (Grosset/Putnam 1995)