( Photo credit from left to right: Pete Souza, gatesnotes.com, Wikipedia Commons)
"Polymaths have existed forever — indeed they are often the ones who’ve advanced Western civilization more than any others —" says author, Michael Simmons, link below. (Not just Western but all world civilisations.)
Polymaths have often been used synonymously with "geniuses", sort of meaning that they're born, not made. Funny that, considering how almost every child I've ever met is a genius, a polymath; so unbelievably curious, so voracious for knowledge. (Parents, not so much.)
(I think, all geniuses are polymaths, and not all polymaths are geniuses, but they're the reason we're all not still living in caves.)
Then the children start school and the "successful" ones become termites -- termite doctors, lawyers, engineer, accountants, ordinary termites, termite businesmen, etc. I was a termite engineer once; almost killed me.
So there. We're all born geniuses until we start school. Repeat and rinse.
Recently, there has been some noise about child brides.
My mother was a child bride; she was 15 when I was born. the interesting thing is that none of her 4 younger sisters suffered her fate. Why? Was it due to a law? Or was it due to education, social, cultural and economic development, escape from the poverty trap, empowerment of women (to learn and earn), and other reasons. (In Malaysia, all we want want are more laws and regulations; termite reasoning.)
My mother was my best friend, teacher and student. (She learned desktop publishing in her mid-sixties, also the Kamban Tamil script, and published several song books for her temple to rise funds. She never stopped learning until her very end.) She was forever a child, always curious, always a polymath.
An old engineering story: some engineers were playing poker when a technician barged in about problems of demolishing a house to build a straight road. "Which is a stronger hand, a straight or a full house?" "A full house," said the technician. "Then the house stays," said his boss nonchalantly and continued playing his cards. (Sorry, Tan Sri Wan.)
There is a local polymath that I've been watching for several decades, always fascinated at how his mind works (although he probably irks many straight thinkers ... why is the law not passed, where's the law?) I can almost hear his brain ticking, sorting through social, cultural, religious, legal, economic, educational, media, international and national relations and other issues before making an announcement (only to make some people very unhappy).
Also read this: https://medium.com/accelerated-intelligence/the-5-hour-rule-if-youre-not-spending-5-hours-per-week-learning-you-re-being-irresponsible-791c3f18f5e6