Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Disadvantages of Elite Education

Apologies for the flurry of posts.  This is what happens when you don't have internet 24-7.  You've got to save it all up on your hard drive and send it out to cyberspace all in one go.

But I wanted to flag this article by Yale prof William Deresciewicz about the disadvantages of elite education.  Nothing particularly new here, but it's a well-thought out piece on the ways in which elite education entrenches class divisions and actually forecloses possibilities for those within its ranks.  It's nice to see an article about this in the American Scholar, of all places.  I may have something to say in a bit about the disadvantages of an elite law education.  We'll see.

1 comment:

gale said...

"Visit any elite campus in our great nation and you can thrill to the heartwarming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals."

Telling, no? It fits into Joyce's post about guilt, the children of victimizers and victims. There's no sense of conversation, of community, only a need to be forgiven. And the inability to have meaningful conversations (with people who are of a different class, or as this article also alludes to - even with your classmates and friends in college) is crippling.

Forgive me for this: Michelle Obama appeared on The View a couple of weeks ago, and she made the point that she hates "diversity training" where she is the diversity. It's not a "training" - it's constant conversation and friendships. You can argue and debate about your difference, but ultimately you remain connected in your community.

Most Americans don't meet people who are all that different than them on an equal and neutral ground. Except at church! [unless you go to one of those churches on the North Shore of Chicago where the Hispanics meet in the evening and the whites in the morning . . . ]

Schools and universities should be the place for this, and yet they fail for all the reasons that the article elaborates.

I actually did have the experience this past year where we were discussing welfare in my marriage class. The two student discussion leaders asked: "what is your image of a person on welfare?" and one student says - well, I was on welfare until I came to Rice. That made everyone pause . . .

How often does that happen at Rice? At Yale?

I want to assign this article in my classes during the first week and find out what my students think. They might get really mad at me. But it could also create an interesting dynamic for the rest of the semester.