Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

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Deresiewicz spent 24 years in the Ivy League, graduating from Columbia and teaching for a decade at Yale.


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Yale denied him tenure, leading some to shrug this book off as sour grapes. He brings the gory details. Two, the author is a striker, to put it in soccer terms.


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Three, his indictment arrives on wheels: He takes aim at just about the entirety of upper-middle-class life in America. When I say that Mr. The particulars of this experience will make parents break out in a prickly rash.

William Deresiewicz on the Ivy League, Mental Illness, and the Meaning of Life - The Atlantic

I am still recovering. Only five or six extracurricular activities? Those are slacker numbers. Deresiewicz spends a long time considering college admissions because a vast number of crimes, he suggests, are committed in its name. See full terms and conditions and this month's choices.

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Thank you for signing up, fellow book lover! See More Categories. If you get a position with some authority you are, by definition, a leader. And service, if anything, is even worse. Davis: You argue that society transmits its values through education.

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

How would you summarize the values transmitted through the elite-education system? So those are the values that the system is transmitting: self-aggrandizement, being in service to yourself, a good life defined exclusively in terms of conventional markers of success wealth and status , no real commitment to education or learning, to thinking, and no real commitment to making the world a better place.

Deresiewicz: Ultimately, colleges have inherited the spiritual mission of churches. As religious beliefs have declined with the rise of science, especially among educated people, people started to turn elsewhere to ask the big questions: What does life mean? What is the world about?

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People turned to works of art, to literature, music, theater, philosophy, which were in turn brought into college curricula. Studying the humanities is about giving yourself the opportunity to engage in acts of self reflection, seeking answers to the kinds of questions you ask yourself not in a specialized capacity—but in the general capacity of being a human being, as a citizen.

Deresiewicz: I just hate it when people talk about how self reflection is somehow self indulgent—as if the things that students were being invited to do were not , like making themselves rich and powerful. How is that not self-indulgent?

Are You the One Living Your Life?- Excellent Sheep Summary

You can decide, what is the best work for me, what is the best career for me, what are the rewards that I really want. And you will be acting on your own initiative instead of having absorbed the messages that have been instilled in you unconsciously. Are there certain things that can only be learned outside the classroom? Deresiewicz: There are certainly limits to formal institutional education. A book you read in 12th grade or as a sophomore in college might suddenly click five years later.



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