Short Book Summaries

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

Excellent Sheep book

A liberal college education ought to be an opportunity to pursue intellectual risk. A chance to develop habits like reflection, capacity for change and skepticism. Time to think rigorously and reach one’s own conclusions. An opportunity to discover “exhilarating new insights,” to discover why one has come and to pursue one’s calling and how to live. “A real education sends you into the world bearing questions, not resumes.” Instead, William Deresiewicz argues, elite institutions have become credential factories greasing the gears for a narrow concept of happiness — the achievement of affluence, prestige and more credentials. Colleges game selectivity stats and families pay for admissions counseling and test prep while students use extracurriculars as currency for admittance to select institutions. Students are customers to be coddled rather than young people of which much is intellectually expected. So rather than being meritocratic institutions that offer wonderful intellectual opportunity across classes, elite institutions have become finishing schools for America’s aristocracy.

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