Linear B is an ancient form of Greek, used around 1500 BC (the Bronze Age) in Mycenean Greece. Stuff written in Linear B gives us one of our oldest views of human life and can reveal things that other ways of looking at the past (e.g., bones, genes, tools, pottery) cannot. At the end of The Riddle of the Labyrinth (2013) by Margalit Fox, a book about how Linear B was deciphered, is a section about what the deciphered tablets turned out to say.
One thing they revealed is considerable occupational specialization. According to Fox (pp. 273-5),
Mycenaeans plied a range of trades. Many tablets reveal the names of occupations . . . metalsmiths . . . textile work . . . tanners . . . leatherworkers . . . priests and priestesses . . . soldiers, rowers, and archers . . . swordmakers and bowmakers, chariot makers and chariot-wheel repairmen . . . goldsmiths and perfumers . . . woodcutters, carpenters, shipbuilders and net makers; fire kindlers and bath attendants; heralds, hunters, herdsmen, and beekeepers. . . . bronzesmiths.
Occupational specialization is at the center of my theory of human evolution. The decipherment of Linear B showed that it has existed as far back as we can see. Today there is an enormous amount of occupational specialization, but it also flourished when accumulated knowledge was much less.
The more you see the centrality of occupational specialization to human nature, the more you will see how modern schooling malnourishes almost everyone who undergoes it — which is almost everyone. Human nature takes people at one place and time — such as Mycenaean Greece — and pushes them to become adults who do all sorts of different things (woodcutter, herald, beekeeper . . . ). It takes people who start off the same or almost the same — same place, same food, same weather, similar genes — and creates diversity among them. Modern education tries to do the opposite: Take a diverse set of students and make them the same. One example is No Child Left Behind. Another is that in almost every college class, all students are given the same material, the same assignments, and graded on the same one-dimensional scale. We don’t need everyone to be the same; in fact, we need exactly the opposite. The more diverse we are, the sooner we will find solutions to pressing problems, because they will be attacked in many different ways.