Saturday, August 27, 2005

Too Much Focus? Not Me

One bit of advice offered to graduate students and professors in their pre-tenure years is to specialize, with laser-like focus, andestablish a niche you can protect and defend.

Excuse me? There could be no advice less academically acceptable to me. It would be better to read and explore nothing than to close your eyes to anything outside a little box. In fact, I think you would learn more and contribute more outside the walls of a university so dedicated to specialization.

I do not want to declare a little niche. I want to be a little of everything, specialist in nothing. I believe in the concept of a Renaissance scholar. There is inspiration to be found in every field, in every experience. To exist in a little fortress is to shield yourself from accidental discovery.

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