17 June 2007

Link of the day: Vertical and lateral growth

I enjoyed this post by Scott Young about vertical and lateral growth. In a nutshell, vertical growth is accomplishing tasks towards a single goal and lateral growth is exploring and putting together ideas from different topics. You can't be a complete person without both. For example, you can progress through your study of physics by going from Newtonian mechanics to quantum mechanics to quantum field theory. That's vertical growth. You can also do a physics experiment that requires you to synthesize your knowledge of electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, and electrical engineering (hmm, that sounds like someone's thesis). It's interesting that the conventional American education is to devote the first 20 years of your life growing vertically. Then you spend the rest of your life working in a job or doing research and that's all lateral growth. We need to encourage people to have a healthy balance of vertical and lateral growth.

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