reply to post by NihilistSanta
Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised to see you mention Bertrand Russell's Scientific Outlook. Always makes my day.
I personally have myself about
99% convinced that that particular work by Russell became a blueprint for our educational system.
And yes, Russell was, in fact, a polymath. His "expertise" was logic, mathematics, and history. He dabbled heavily in multiple subjects outside of
those and wrote multiple social critiques on subjects from education to human nature, itself. Part of the reason why I think so few polymaths exist
is most likely due to the expense of just obtaining one degree. A ton of college degrees aren't cheap (and boy did I get in trouble when I was
caught lol). Whether they are more common or not in today's world, I do not know. I've met a couple in my lifetime and, from what I understand,
the majority of environmental philosophers could fall under polymaths so it could be that they are simply gravitating to one subject and condensing
Basic education in the US does not provide for polymath opportunity though it touches on it slightly. Kids are exposed to a variety of subjects for
basic comprehension but are, ultimately, shoved towards one primary subject (where their prowess lies). This is the difference between basic
comprehension and expertise--learn enough to kind of get what the experts are talking about but not enough to reasonably question with any authority.
Where you do get polymath encouragement is in the gifted programs within the US where multiple and seemingly divergent subjects are taught under one
subject. For instance, my 6th grade child is in a gifted humanities as opposed to regular humanities. Here's an actual side by side comparison of
the two for consideration (list function apparently broken). These are straight from the school's curriculum pages for each, exactly as they are
listed on the page with the exception of my using italics to denote difference. I'd post links to the actual curriculum pages but privacy issues
Regular Humanities Curriculum:
Greek and Latin stems
Fiction and non-fiction reading
Gifted Humanities Curriculum:
Writing--writing process, brainstorming
, modes of writing (narrative, expository, persuasive), ideas and content, organization, voice and word
choice, writing conventions, fluency.
Reading--comprehension/vocabulary building, including greek and latin stems, context cues, fiction and non-fiction reading (short, novel, editorial,
letter, essays), concepts, supporting evidence, logical organization
, and reading fluency for silent or aloud (for audience).
Geography--location and mapping, geography themes and critical thinking, regional exploration (climate, regional environment resources, cultural
change), systems thinking (trends and patterns, environment, population, cultural universals, diversity and forces of change, elements and evidence of
culture (gov't, economy, history, geography, language/history, art, and music).
Critical thinking--main ideas/concepts/theories, supporting evidence (relevant/specific), logical order, collaboration and cooperation, independent
work strategies, assessment models and self assessment skills, learning about learning
Just a few, minor differences there... One would hope that every child gets to at least attempt to learn those italicized subjects when passing
through the public school system here in the US. However, these subjects are relegated to classes that are mandated to include only the "top" 1-2%
of children in the US through really questionable measures. People should be screaming about this because what this equates to (though with no
guarantee) is a distinct advantage being offered to a very small portion of the population over the rest of the populace. Hello Bertrand Russell...
Video by Matt Groening (The Simpsons) on the subject (doesn't want to embed): youtu.be...