An Attack on Elite Educational Institutions

October 15, 2014

Two zombies are eating a comedian. First zombie says to the second one: “do you taste something funny?”

Two zombies are eating a comedian.  First zombie says to the second one:  “do you taste something funny?”

 

The definitions of zombie include:

1.     A corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, especially in certain African and Caribbean religions.

2.     A person who is or appears lifeless, apathetic or completely unresponsive to the surroundings.

3.     A computer controlled by another person without the owner’s knowledge and used for sending spam or other illegal or illicit activities.

4.     A tall mixed drink consisting of several kinds of rum, liquer and fruit juice.

Of these, the last one most appeals to me.  But it is definition number two, I fear, that is contemplated by author William Deresiewicz in a recent article sent to me by my friend and loyal Ophthalmology Times reader Dan.  Entitled “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League: The Nation’s Top Colleges Are Turning Our Kids Into Zombies”, the article1 (you guessed it) excoriates the admissions criteria and educational experience of our most prestigious centers of higher learning.  The author, a former professor at Yale University, asserts that wealthier parents-by providing their children with more opportunities for activities and better schooling and tutoring-maximize their children’s chances of acceptance. 

In case you missed it: Sen. Paul to ophthalmologists: Get into politics to make a real change

These children of privilege, we are told, are “content to color within the lines that their education had marked out for them.  Few were passionate about ideas. Beneath a faced of seamless, well adjustment, . . . are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them.”

 

Professors, we are told, hand out good grades to all the students because “students are regarded by the institution as ‘customers,’ people to be pandered to instead of challenged.  Professors are rewarded for research, so they want to spend as little time on their classes as they can.”  Students are focused on getting the grades they need, and not on reflecting upon what they are learning.

Professor Deresiewicz thinks that the Ivy League functions to preserve an elitist system.  As evidence, he reports that 75% of freshmen at the 100 or more most selective colleges come from households in the upper quarter of the income distribution, while only 3% are from the bottom quarter.

More in this issue: Axing R&D funding alarming

Not one to offer minor adjustments, the author’s proposed solution is “dismantling the entire system,” and creating a free system of public education that would be funded by taxes on the wealthiest 10% of Americans. As noted in this column recently, amongst that 10% is the vast majority of ophthalmologists.

As a tenured professor myself at one of the selective colleges that the author pillories, it is perhaps not surprising that I am a big believer in the importance and value of higher education. All the data I have seen point to education being a key determinant of future income and wealth, so I personally am in favor of addressing wealth inequality by strengthening education standards in our country and around the world.  But when it comes to thinking of my former college schoolmates as zombies, with the exception of Eric (an ophthalmologist in Long Island), I’m not sure I see it.

 

P.S.  For a good kind of zombie, try the following formula:

1/2 oz Bacardi® 151 rum
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1/2 oz apricot brandy
1 tsp sugar
2 oz light rum
1 oz dark rum
1 oz lime juice

 

Blend all ingredients with ice except Bacardi 151 proof rum. Pour into a collins glass. Float Bacardi 151 proof rum on top. Garnish with a fruit slice, sprig of mint and a cherry



Read more: Zombie recipehttp://www.drinksmixer.com/drink624.html#ixzz3DPaVVwEY

 

1. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118747/ivy-league-schools-are-overrated-send-your-kids-elsewhere