Whatever Happened to the Polymath?

I hate the modern education system; it flat-out f*cking sucks. Instead of facilitating learning, it just sorts people into careers suitable for them through process of elimination and academic bulimia (scarfing down load upon load of information only to regurgitate it in the span of an hour). In addition to that, it just roots people to said career path, robs them of creativity, and pretty much confines them to that spot. Furthermore, it should facilitate branching out into other fields and becoming proficient in them. I’m no socialist or leftist for that matter, but if anything should be free, equal, and fair in any society, education should up on that list. I’ve taken on the synonymous-with-the-young-and-foolish and ambitious goal of trying to bring back the polymath through my desire to work in my (obscenely) many interests. It might not work out with me, but as long as more and more people do it, then I can die happy. Now to cut with the blabbering and to get to the point: what the hell happened to the polymath?

This question’s been burning at me ever since I took my Syriac literature class back in sophomore year, wherein I presented the life and one of the works of  Abū’l-Faraj bin Hārūn al-Malaṭī, aka: Gregory Bar Hebraeus (Syr: ܓܪܝܓܘܪܝܘܣ ܒܪ ܥܒܪܝܐ, Arab: ابو الفرج بن هارون الملطي), a 13th century bishop of the Syriac Orthodox church. The son of a prominent physician, he grew up in what is today Antioch and originally pursued a career in medicine in addition to other fields of knowledge including history, philosophy, science, poetry, grammar, and theology. Even after he was appointed primate (or maphrian) in 1264, he still pursued these endeavors and continued to publish profusely on these and other issues that can’t come to mind at this late hour. Leonardo da Vinci was also a polymath as we all know, excelling in a multitude of fields including art, physiology, music, and other fields I also can’t be assed to think of right now.

Returning to the question at hand, here’s the most obvious response: the Industrial Revolution. The changes in society and industry inevitably would bring forth changes in education in order to facilitate things and better sort people out. It’s worked really well; I mean, the system’s been working for hundreds of years and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. But the way I see it, it’s limited people in terms of personal and academic ambition: everyone just wants to get a job so they can get by and live comfortably. Understandable, but what fun is working 9-5 to keep your suburban den in whitebread America (or wherever else suburbia exists) when there’s so much out there to learn?

A pal of mind and fellow blogger, Gino Raidy (ginsblog.com) wrote something in a recent article of his that prompted me to write this (likely poorly-written) rant: “Your degree and job are cool, but they shouldn’t limit the endless possibilities your brain can adapt to”. I agree 110% with this statement and have pretty much based my life on it, despite really going through with it in recent years. So yeah, I think we could use a total rehaul of the education system and base it off of Finland’s education system. Additionally, educators should promote creativity in the classroom so that students will become more versatile, adaptable, and ambitious in their later pursuits, which will hopefully number in the tens (there’s only so much we humans can do at this stage in our evolution). Hopefully, this will do away with the blight that is academic bulimia.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that there are some points here that can be easily picked apart, but I wrote this up at 3 in the morning when I should be studying for my finals, but hey: senioritis. If anybody has any contributions or counter-arguments to be made, be my guest but keep it civil. ‘Til then,

Y’all take care now.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Hebraeus




About optimistthepessimist

Always in transit.
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