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wundayatta's avatar

Well rounded or highly focussed?

Asked by wundayatta (58617points) August 29th, 2008

If you have a preference, which do you prefer? Which way do you lean? Or what’s your balance between them? What are the advantages of each?

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20 Answers

RandomMrdan's avatar

it depends on what I’m in search for….if I need a doctor for a specialized task (eye, ear, throat doctor) for some sort of infection then obviously I’d go see him. however if I just need a basic check up I’d probably go see a family practitioner.

I’m not really sure what you’re referring to though. The advantage of seeing someone who is highly focussed in a specific field would be that his opinion or advice can be taken seriously because he knows exactly what he is talking about and deals with on a daily basis.

The advantage I suppose a family doctor might have would be a more relaxed environment, you probably won’t pay as much for his service as you would for a specialized doctor.

I’m not quite sure why I chose to compare doctors for your particular question…but curious…what was it you were referring to, if anything in particular?

wundayatta's avatar

I’m referring more to the approach you take to educating yourself. Sort of Liberal Arts vs specialty.

In the case of a doctor, would you prefer a doctor who had driven straight through school, with no courses outside of his field, or one who perhaps took some humanities courses, could play the sax, and liked to do rock climbing?

Personally, I trust the well-rounded person, because I think they have more knowledge to refer to, and might be better problem solvers. So that is what I have become. Others might prefer the straight focussed doctor, because they might believe he or she knows more about a condition.

I prefer a person who knows how to learn, over a person who knows everything about something, and keeps it in their head.

But I’m sure different people have different preferences, and I’d like to know what those preferences are, and why they hold them.

Does this make sense?

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

I can be both—usually, I’m pretty well rounded. But when I need to focus, I can…and I have to watch that…because I can focus to the exclusion of all bodily functions. haha, sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll set a timer to remind me to get up, move around, drink water, and pee.

I’m a slut-reader, will read anything. Love mostly non-fiction. Love to learn. Have a degree in Psych with a split minor in Art History/ English. [that and 10cents will get me donuts.] I know I don’t know everything, but dingdangnabit, I WANT TO!! I love hearing how other’s who do not think like me or hold my opinions, think and arrive at theirs. Yet, I find few people who can discuss differences in beliefs and opinions without invested emotion.

windex's avatar

I HIGHLY recommend being REALLY good at ONE thing. Specializing in one field.

Larssenabdo's avatar

Ditto Seeker, absolutely. I like to know about all sorts of stuff, and if something catches my interest, look out; I get OCD all over it.

windex's avatar

Are you talking about a profession? or just hobbies ? : ]

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Right on! lassenabdo!

Windex: Too late, I’m already multi—and as a writer, it’s a good thing….

windex's avatar


wundayatta's avatar

I’m talking as a person. What you want to be. Totally focussed? Well-rounded? Why?

windex's avatar

I don’t know if this is unrelated, but I just HATE the “know it all types” who feel like they have to comment on everything and be RIGHT all the time.

Someone once said “Our greatest desire is to be right”

This might sound odd but I actually try NOT to memorize too much info and fill my brain with cr*p. Since I can just use the INTERNETS as an external HardDrive and access info whenever I want.

delirium's avatar

I am spherical. With some dents.

cyndyh's avatar

@windex: Learning isn’t about memorizing. It’s so very much more than that.

@all: I think a person has to have both depth and breadth. Too much of either by itself doesn’t get you very far.

If you’re just a diletante, you never have the joy of learning anything in depth or doing anything with any stray bits of information you’ve stumbled upon.

On the other extreme, if you’re overly focused and oblivious to things outside your profession or field of study then you never have the opportunity of doing anything new with it. So, eventually, not having breadth gets in the way of deeper learning in the focus field as well.

In order to apply any deep knowledge to anything it’s going to need to be related to other people, other issues or topics, or have other uses. Otherwise you’re not making the knowledge yours; you’re just filing information and not doing anything with it. The best stuff comes about when worlds meet and when people see something useful in one field that could benefit another field.

That’s a long way of saying “I’ll take both, please”. :^>

augustlan's avatar

Well rounded means, to me, a deep and broad education, along with experiences that have nothing to do with formal education: extra-curricular activities and hobbies, exposure to many types of people and cultures, ability to form strong relationships, etc. My two oldest children are “gifted”, and it would be easy for them to focus soley on academics. I’ve tried to make sure their lives are about so much more than that. My greatest hope for them is that they’ll find something worthwhile to be passionate about, but not to the exclusion of everything else. Balance is important in living a contented life.

wundayatta's avatar

bravo Augustian! (what’s the clapping emoticon?)

augustlan's avatar

By the way Daloon, I am august L an .
I know it’s hard to tell the difference between a lower case “L” and an upper case “I”.

wundayatta's avatar

Ah. Sorry about that. now I’m redfaced My eyes are not so good, anyway, and things are often blurry looking at the screen.

augustlan's avatar

no harm done :)

wildflower's avatar

Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none! I quite like it that way. If I spent too long specializing in anything, I’d get restless and wonder what else is out there….

wundayatta's avatar

@wildflower: No wonder you seem like good people!

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