(My own edition))
I feel like there is a weird bias when analyzing Heinlein’s work and this book in particular.
I never really got that the Competent Man in Heinlein books was presented as the norm. It was always the protagonist or the protagonist's mentor, characters who can be expected to be exceptional in some way. There were always people beyond reclamation, but Jubal and Lazarus always tried to elevate people around them. They thought everyone should be competent while knowing not everyone was and also that some were determined to not be competent.
I am one of those neckbeards that took that message but not in the way some people might suggest. I set out from a very young age to have the broadest set of skills and knowledge I could acquire while also acquiring sufficient depth on a few of them to be able to have a career. While this has resulted in more hobbies and unfinished projects than I can count, the unexpected benefits have more than paid off in both reduced cost of living by being able to make and maintain a lot of my own stuff myself and also through finding novel solutions by bringing unusual experience to problem solving in my various jobs. Additionally, I never got the general disrespect of academia Heinlein’s books have. I got the disrespect of excessive academia, totally divorced from practicality. But there was clear respect for people who had to be specialized to the exclusion of general competence when it was clear that was necessary to apply sufficient brain-power to the problem being considered. There wasn't time for such people to develop general competence. Those people were to be funded and protected, not disrespected.
Almost no Greek character is free of hubris. Odysseus got cursed by Poseidon all because he bragged to the blinded Cyclops and told him his real name. Theseus got locked in Hell for trying to kidnap Persephone. Perseus was an idiot to agree to hunt Medusa in the first place and had to be helped out through divine intervention or he never could have done it. Heinlein is just carrying the torch so to speak.
If you want to know the more idealistic side of Heinlein’s ‘competent man’ in his young-adult stories, track down this one and ‘Citizen of the Galaxy’. They’re probably two of his best YA novels and can show how these ideas play out.
Maybe I am alone in this.
SF = Speculative Fiction.