social response to hedgehogs vs foxes

Singapore education today is really too fixated in producing hedgehogs – people who are focused on one area, among the nearly infinite choice of possibilities out there.

For an innovation/knowledge-based economy, hedgehogs alone are insufficient, especially when there is no synergy between different areas of knowledge, where innovative and creative ideas cannot surface. But then, people are stuck on this style of thinking, that the future job has to been somehow correlated with what you studied, or it will be a great waste of time. But that thinking just doesn’t cut it anymore. While certain jobs are highly technical and really require the expertise and specialties from learning, the interesting ideas come from where wholly different ideas meet and create something new, or new markets…

Besides, education is no longer correlated to industry or vocation. By that I mean simply this: an engineer is hardly expected to work in an engineering firm, nor is a science major necessarily mean being pushed towards the pharmaceutical or whatever industry. Yes, there will still be specialists who will find employment in their areas of education, but for many others, it will not be the case.

Perhaps its also a phase of life thing. Many people are forced to be hedgehogs at too early an age, at a time where they simply have no idea where their heart really lies. Given our time where there are so many opportunities, where there are so many exciting things to do, it is very possible to fall into the impulse of the moment and fall into something, and realise that its not what it might have looked like originally. People need time to explore, and their time in university is part of that exploratory process. At the same time, the larger issues in the world, and not simply just that – the assumptions that lie behind the bases of our present world – all of them are being questioned. Old models of economics and linear thinking don’t work, and people are beginning to appreciate what complexity really means. It could even be said that the new thinking about complexity and networks are becoming rather powerful meta-skills in examining myriad forms of behaviour across many, many disciplines, from complex biological ecologies to equally messy large-scale interactions… But I digress. Meantime, people are still being led to old paradigms, which is increasinly in cognitive dissonance with the larger developments in the world…

It has been a long blog post, and I have arrive at places I didn’t intend to, but to sum, I’m thinking, that foxes are becoming important, but that doesn’t mean hedgehogs aren’t important – they still are, its just the present trend that societies need foxes. And the other thing: people are being forced to become hedgehogs too fast… time to explore is important.

That’s all for now…


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