All Power to the Polymath

August 4, 2017

Ella Saltmarshe believes that while the specialisation of knowledge brought about as a result of the industrial revolution was hugely beneficial in many sectors, it may have come at a cost.

In her 2013 TED talk she discusses how today in our education systems we tend to specialise early which could lead to a partial and fragmented view of the world. For some of the world’s greatest problems such as climate change no single individual or discipline can solve them independently. If we are to face up to these challenges we need multi-disciplinarians who can aid collaboration between many different sectors to help tackle these issues.

Ella references Steven Johnson’s talk on ‘Where good ideas come from’ and argues that some of the greatest innovations from the computer to the printing press came about as a result of the fusion of seemingly unrelated concepts. This supports the idea that a polymathic approach can lead to massively disruptive innovation.

She talks about the importance of life-long education encouraging people to create their own curriculum and never stop learning. She also emphasises how although humility is important, it needs to be balanced with a confidence that your ideas and insight can make an important contribution to the world.

Ella Saltmarshe is a screenwriter, journalist, strategist, campaigner and entrepreneur and spoke at TEDxLSE in 2013.


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