I commonly hear the value of being well rounded or of giving our children a well rounded education, but have never heard any reasoning behind this. Ironically, the latter of these statements are made even as we as a society become more specialized. It used to be that you could be a decent farmer, a decent seamstress, and somewhat of an entrepreneur who sells crops at the market. This isn’t possible anymore. Nowadays we funnel people into 4 year tracks in order to obtain a degree in a specific field. The most sought after and well paid professions, such as that of a lawyer, scientist, or doctor, require up to 8 years or more of constant study.
And to a certain extent it seems that being well rounded was never actually useful, though increased industrialization since the 18th century has made it particularly obsolete. But even in the Pre-Industrial Era many youths would be sent off to apprentice themselves under a master beginning in the early teens. Knights would begin their training as a squire as young, prepubescent boys, and would only receive their promotion in their early 20s. And we mustn’t forget the fact that the oft-quoted phrase “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”, originated as early as the 18th century. How then is it that being a generalist or an individual who is balanced in multiple qualities has become so valued as of late? At least from an ideological perspective; as stated above, society has always supported the specialist economically, regardless of what it may say.