Intellectual breadth is important – we need T-thinkers

We need more young people who are T-thinkers with a broad, cross-disciplinary education. Let’s not push kids to specialise too early, before they even know who they are, let alone what they are interested in! We need them to find connections between the arts, the humanities and sciences. They also need a strong command of language with which to express these connections that they discover. When they study biology, for example, they are actually studying systems thinking at the same time. They are not worlds apart.

T-thinkers have a broad cross bar of knowledge and experience – they are broadly competent and thereafter they choose to go deep and specialise in one or two things at which they are likely to become expert. This expertise, underpinned by broad-based knowledge and experience, adds a richness and roundedness to their thinking because they have a greater awareness of the inter-connectedness of things.

Here is a great quote that sums up the importance of intellectual breadth and the need to know stuff about a lot of things, from Tan Chorh Chuan, President of the National University of Singapore:

“One thing I’ve been increasingly convinced about is the importance of intellectual breadth. There are two reasons why:  First, many of the problems we fce in our work and lives are complex. They cut across different disciplines and domains of knowledge. If you don’t have a broad intellectual base, you will not be able to see the potential cross-disciplinary implications. Second, where we expected to do three or four jobs in a lifetime, the average graduate today might do 10 or 12. These jobs can cross many different sectors so you must have the intellectual base from which you can retool yourself more easily to do different types of work.” Source: Curious (Quercus, 2014) by Ian Leslie.

This is very, very, very important. I cannot emphasise this enough. More on this topic in my new book due out in the second half of 2019, Future-proof Your Child for the 2030s (Penguin Random House) co-authored with futurist, Dr Graeme Codrington.

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