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Monday, June 30, 2008

Ivy Retardation

The American Scholar published an article by William Deresiewicz, a professor at Yale University, which describes the phenomenon he calls "Ivy Retardation."

We were “the best and the brightest,” as these places love to say, and
everyone else was, well, something else: less good, less bright. I learned to
give that little nod of understanding, that slightly sympathetic “Oh,” when
people told me they went to a less prestigious college. (If I’d gone to Harvard,
I would have learned to say “in Boston” when I was asked where I went to
school—the Cambridge version of noblesse oblige.) I never learned that there are
smart people who don’t go to elite colleges, often precisely for reasons of
class. I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to college at

So very true. I openly loathe the American education system. Yes, I am currently training to be a test prep instructor, thereby helping more students game the system. I am part of the problem. But I do know what the solution is. The American education system is nothing more than a guarantor of privileges of your socioeconomic class. The idea that there is any equality at all is laughable. Equal education will only arrive when teaching becomes training, when all students are given the basics towards their survival in a global market.

Yes, this would be more money for teachers, and higher taxes. But it would emphasize broad, marketable skills- reading, writing, math, and technology. The lie of American education is that anyone can be President. Maybe so, but that is not a goal. The country needs construction workers and adminstrative assistants. What the country doesn't need is failed schools and academics more in love with theory than training.

True, education is better today on a global perspective. More women and handicapped receive proper education. But, top to bottom, the American education system relies less on its primary goal (education) than on illusory social skills (phys ed, networking, adding resources, etc.).

Our empire will crumble here, not through misbegotten wars or failed environmental policies. Poor students make poor leaders.

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