On the surface this seems simple but in reality it is both a difficult and pertinent question. I am sure that it can be rewarding to be a specialist in an endeavor or field of expertise, but I would have to say that a balanced, well rounded individual is generally more flexible and adaptable. Life throws us curves sometimes and our backgrounds can limit or help us in those situations. I do believe some people are uniquely suited to pursue specialties and I believe they should do so. I also believe that well rounded "generalists" are frequently well-suited for movement into a specialist-type role. Their prior focus on the whole can offer its own benefits.
I think its better to be well-rounded,in my opinion,because life is too short to be anything but that. There's so much in life that is meant to be enjoyed, to narrow one's field to just one specific thing can be limiting,often. But thats my 2 cents only. Others might disagree, and I can see why.
While in economic or athletic scenarios, specialization in one field might yield greater worth to others and success in the long term, well-rounded character, skills, and knowledge ultimately makes a more compatible and able individual. For example, LeBron James does not need to practice his golf swing in order to succeed in his basketball career. Specialization in the workplace produces a better image in the eyes of most employers as they hire multiple people for various, unique purposes. Say, however, that an entrepreneur opens a small business. This entrepreneur isn't hiring hundreds of people and has very little capital, thus he or she relies on knowledge in various areas, like accounting or technology, to grow his or her business. Likewise, cultural diversity makes one more attuned to the opinions and lifestyles of those around the globe. This aspect produces an aptitude to be able to problem solve between groups of people and maintain a degree of respect. All in all, I believe that being well-rounded is applicable to a greater number of situations and produces an individual with proper morals and conduct frequently absent in those who turn to specialization.
It's not enough to just be good at one thing. You can master what ever subject you want, but without certain other skills the one you have mastered wont be worth anything. For example, some people are really smart, good at school. Those people might be good with classes, but what about people? It doesn't matter if your get strait A's for the rest of your life if you can't go out, talk to people, and get a job.
However, you cannot get to be an expert in your field without be well rounded first anyway. For example, as a psychologist, I first had to go to undergrad school where I double majored in psychology and peace and conflict studies. I then went on and got my Masters in Psychology and then PhD. Along the way I have a BS and MA in Mathematics and a PhD in Philosophy plus a culinary degree. As yo can see I am well rounded in education and am highly specialized in my field. WaaaLaa.
Theoretically, if the entirety of society was well rounded, then you would have everyone being able to do everything at an average level. If everyone was highly specialized in a few fields, they could complement each others weaknesses and we would have a society capable of doing everything at a highly specialized level. Specialization of labour is what makes trade work: If I can make 1 wheat per hour and 5 corn per hour, and someone else can do the opposite, then we can trade wheat for corn and make more total product over all, meaning both parties are better off. Cornbread for everybody.
Not to mention "well-rounded" is a fairly vague term, as I may define it as being capable of functioning on a day to day basis, and you may define it as knowing calculus. I don't need calculus, and could spend my time much better learning a skill useful to me like history, whereas the math professor does no need to know a detailed analysis of history for his career. Time wasted on both sides, everyone is worse off.
The most important, best-paying jobs are not ones that require "well-roundedness." Look for any good paying job, and generally, you're going to find that the person is doing a specific function.
Some people are rockstars.
Some people are show hosts.
Some people are politicians.
Some people are businessmen.
Some people are professors.
No matter which way you look at it, they always performing one specific task.
I look at the issue from an educational perspective. There's a difference between being a well-rounded person in general versus a well-rounded education. A well-rounded education is a liberal arts education. A liberal arts education typically means a four-year degree, which means... Expensive. The average debt after college is $30,000, and that's generously low for some cases. A lot of the time, it's higher, anywhere from $40,000 to $50,000.
My issue lies mostly with the old illusion: "If you go to college, you'll get a well-paying job." But which college? In recent years, technical schools (two year schools) are proving themselves more favorable than four-year colleges.
Of course, that depends on where you go, what programs you enroll in, et cetera. In some cases, two-year colleges don't really cut it -- some careers depend on the solid skills that come from the early classes in those four-year colleges. But many students can now use cheaper two-year colleges as an entryway to the four-year colleges, replacing the credits for a much smaller price.
The liberal arts degree is a risky one. It might be worth the while in some cases -- in fact, it is sometimes the only path that may be taken, especially for fields that require degrees, like teaching, law, medicine. But some students choose to go to four-year colleges when they don't always need to.
The United States has long used four-year colleges for liberal arts degrees, but I question whether one must pay such an extensive price for a four-year degree only for the sake of being "well-rounded." $30,000 or more is too much.
Money no longer goes to education; the university bubble will eventually crash. It will force the universities to think outside the box. Some universities are already shifting away from the four-year liberal arts degree in favor of specializing directly in the field, ignoring other fields altogether. While I appreciate a well-rounded degree, I have always thought some classes I took at university were a complete waste of time. They offered difficult general education courses alongside extremely basic general education courses. I took the latter classes in order to concentrate on my chosen fields...
I appreciate well-rounded individuals. But if a "well-rounded" education means a liberal arts education, then I hesitate. I have quite a few friends with "well-rounded degrees" working in laundromats or other low-paying jobs. No matter what job they have, I know it is going to take them a significant amount of time to clear their debts. Loans are not imaginary things. They must eventually be paid, or consequences will be dealt...
Anyone can learn a certain or variety of skills. But mastering those skills is a key feature in the development of society. Both qualities have they're benefits, educating yourself about a different set of topics enables you to give more diverse answers and studying things in depth adds more accuracy to your answers. However in terms of employ ability. Employers are looking for those who are able to use their skills in the most effective manner.
Being the top student in class usually correlates with not being very athletic. I'm not sure what culturally=speaking means. It pays more to be a endocrinologist vs a general physician, it pays more to be a transmission specialist compared to a general mechanic. And it pays more to be a starting pitcher than a utility guy.
If everyone were to be generally skilled in majority of subjects, how would we be able to go in to depth on certain topics? For example Einstein specialised in Maths, Beyoncé specialises in music, and both have brought extra knowledge and studies on both subject to the world which would have been less likely to have been explored if they didn't specialise in their talents and were studying many more subjects generally.
In short terms, expertise give us the opportunity to go into more depth in different fields, therefore making us more educated and less ignorant.