3.c.4 – Is it better a wide or a specialized culture?

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April 5, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

Is it better a wide or a specialized culture?

We judge it is dangerous and misguiding the belief that schools should teach what is needed to learn a trade, because it would be highly simplistic: knowledge is needed to live and not only to work, the scholastic basic culture is also needed to countless and fundamental activities non related to work, as understanding the society we live in, understanding the technology that surrounds us, knowing what specialists we should call for a particular problem and understanding their suggestions.
The logic of studying only to work leads to see as positive a division of educational courses according to the future work, but it is a very dangerous trend that could lead to the formation of masses of ignorant specialists, depending on the others and easy to be manipulated: how many doctors and engineers know the difference between a real democracy and an apparent one? How many biologists and architects know the fundamental rights envisaged by the constitution? How many accountants and lawyers know the difference between a scientific theory and a superstition?A highly specialized knowledge also reduces the number of possible uses, making us little adaptable to labor market; how many people have a job other than the one planned at the school days? The possibility of being able to chose an alternative or, perhaps, better activity depends on a basic culture that allows us to acquire a different specialization. The school must therefore focus primarily on the vastness of the basic culture in the view of future specializations, which will gradually outline over time. Obviously the situation changes at the university level and is fully reversed once entered in the world of work; a more specialized training therefore must be concentrated in universities and in professional training courses and not in school.
Once understood the importance of the basic culture, it is important to have clear ideas on this concept. The basic culture is a set of fundamental notions necessary to orientation in the daily life, but we have also seen that the points of reference for our behavior are represented by human values; it is assumed that reading, writing and arithmetic are basic notions, it is equally obvious that it is useful to refine these studies with knowledge of diction, literature, grammar and mathematics, but how many, among parents, teachers and institutions, are aware of the importance of knowledge and practice of human values? How many are aware that the basic culture must also adapt to increasingly rapid changes of the environment we live in? The basic culture, to be effective, must acquire the basic knowledge on human nature from both a biological and cultural a point of view, must make us used to reflect on human values and their adaptation to the present world, must teach a method for identifying, limit and resolve the problems. How many of us can boast of having an adequate basic culture?

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