By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, Morocco, January 31, 2012
Many people including authors, philosophers, teachers, scientists, language practitioners, etc. have differed over the most appropriate way of mastering a field of knowledge. Some people have chosen to know something about everything, whereas others go on to believe that it is better to know everything about something. Each group has provided their evidence, but the fact that we are not completely certain which strategy is more effective remains questionable generation after generation.
Personally, I would go for the second strategy, that of knowing everything about something. Of course, this strategy is almost impossible to put into practice. However, I would rather try to know everything about something than to know something about everything, and this is mainly due to several reasons.
To begin with, I am not against those who try to know something about everything. On the contrary, I encourage them to pursue that path, for this strategy is also effective. But for me, I always do my utmost to know everything about something even though it is very demanding on me. As a teacher and a writer in English, before attaining these positions, I tried to know everything about my subject-matter. In this way, I would be able to teach and write effectively. Let us look at the other way. Had I known something about English as my major, something about Arabic, something about French, I do not think I would have been able to write in English or teach in the language.
It would be true that whenever I am asked about something in English, Arabic or French, I would then be ready to provide an answer. But am I going to use one of these subjects as effectively as when I know almost everything about them? Of course not. It is simply owing to my average knowledge. However, the case is different when one knows everything about a certain field.
One becomes self-confident, productive, and is always on the defensive when asked to react to a certain problem.
A jack-of-all-trades is master at none, some say. I definitely agree. As I have experienced, many of my ex-classmates, ex-colleagues and ex-teachers know a little about different subjects. And my ex-classmates would get fair grades at nearly all the subjects. But, towards the end of their schooling, they were hesitant about the subject they were going to major in. They were afraid they were not competent enough in any particular subject.
And when they go to university, they find difficulty adapting to their profound studies. For me, it is what one can do with his major that is far more important, not what he simply knows. Certainly, one can not do anything sufficiently well unless he fully knows the ins and outs of his or her major.
I have to stress that I am not against knowing something about everything. I am simply in favor of the other way around even though neither is the ultimate solution. Frankly, the latter, I believe, would be to try to know everything about something and at the same time something about everything. For me, I would suggest that one should master his field to the fullest first, then move on to know something about other fields. Unlike what some students do nowadays, they feel so enthusiastic about different fields and thus begin to learn a little from each one. They might think they are doing a good a job. But it is only after some time they discover that it has been only a waste of time, for they will sooner or later feel that they are not competent enough to broach on a certain field as adequately as possible.
Notwithstanding, I strongly believe that one becomes a poet because he is so immersed and well-versed in poetry, that one becomes a teacher because he has concentrated mainly in teaching, and that one becomes a philosopher because he has already read countless philosophical works. But seldom do I hear of people becoming savants just because they know something about everything. It is rather because they know every single fact about their subject matter that they dare to write on it and give their views confidently and eloquently.
Of course, it might be useful for ordinary people to know something about everything. Here, by ordinary people, I mean those who are not interested in adding something new to different universal fields of knowledge. For instance, people who only take delight in reading poems do not have to know everything about poetry. So, it depends on one’s intent. Since there are various arguments as to what is a more effective approach to seeking knowledge, I would simply have to agree with Thomas Hardy when he advised trying to know everything about something and at the same time something about everything. One has only to do his utmost to put the latter outcome into practice.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
Omar Bihmidine is high school teacher of English. He obtained his Associate Degree at Choaib Eddoukali University in 2008. His writings take the form of short stories, poems and articles, many of which have been published in Sous Pens magazine, in the ALC magazine in Agadir, and in the late Casablanca analyst newspaper .
The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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