Elite school systems

I went to a mediocre public school. These schools have been built for “masses” and differ primarily on medium of teaching which is Urdu verses the English in elite schools. I also had the opportunity of observing an elite school closely while working there as a consultant.

Due to my “connection” (if there is any) with that particular elite school, people often ask me for information/process about getting their kids there. Though I avoid it but sometimes I cannot resist my urge to ask them “why they want their kids go there?”. The usual answer is that they want to give the “best” possible education to their kids. If you ask they cannot define the “best”.

Some people are honest with themselves and say that this school will help their kids build right kind of contacts. Yes, contacts and not the education. They want their kids to get rich and not interested in helping them become thinkers, philosophers or inventors. All these people are already rich people and they can “afford” to make their kids thinkers, philosophers, inventors etc.

William Deresiewicz taught for 10 years at Yale University, an elite educational institute in US and has written a detailed article on the disadvantages of elite education.

Few quotes from his article:
“The first disadvantage of an elite education, as I learned in my kitchen that day, is that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you.”

“The second disadvantage, implicit in what I’ve been saying, is that an elite education inculcates a false sense of self-worth. Getting to an elite college, being at an elite college, and going on from an elite college—all involve numerical rankings: SAT, GPA, GRE. You learn to think of yourself in terms of those numbers. They come to signify not only your fate, but your identity; not only your identity, but your value. It’s been said that what those tests really measure is your ability to take tests, but even if they measure something real, it is only a small slice of the real. “

“Graduates of elite schools are not more valuable than stupid people, or talentless people, or even lazy people. Their pain does not hurt more. Their souls do not weigh more. If I were religious, I would say, God does not love them more.”

An elite education gives you the chance to be rich—which is, after all, what we’re talking about—but it takes away the chance not to be. Yet the opportunity not to be rich is one of the greatest opportunities with which young Americans have been blessed.”

Being an intellectual means, first of all, being passionate about ideas—and not just for the duration of a semester, for the sake of pleasing the teacher, or for getting a good grade.”

“The world that produced John Kerry and George Bush is indeed giving us our next generation of leaders. The kid who’s loading up on AP courses junior year or editing three campus publications while double-majoring, the kid whom everyone wants at their college or law school but no one wants in their classroom, the kid who doesn’t have a minute to breathe, let alone think, will soon be running a corporation or an institution or a government. She will have many achievements but little experience, great success but no vision. The disadvantage of an elite education is that it’s given us the elite we have, and the elite we’re going to have.”

(Emphasis added by me)

Read the full article here.


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