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The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

Original post made by RWE on Jul 24, 2008

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This is a very provocative article; it resonates with one of the conversations we have about education, in Palo Alto.

Comments (12)

Posted by qwerty, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 24, 2008 at 7:44 pm

This essay should be required reading for P.A. residents with the elite education and work experience described here. Thanks, RWE. For what it's worth, I'm a professional with degrees from Cal and Stanford, but can't tell you how much I value my work experiences in childcare, retail, agriculture, and stagecraft (doing carpentry and lighting work), and other odds and ends. Someone wrote a book recently that said kids who are told they're smart are learning implicitly that their success is a result of inherent qualities, whereas kids who are praised for their effort learn that they can improve and that their achievement comes from work, not just being who they are. This article reinforces that idea.


Posted by Reader, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2008 at 4:31 pm

When in doubt, talk about the weather. It affects us all equally.


Posted by Peerage, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2008 at 5:37 pm

to Reader:
And which elite school did you attend? They're talking about you.


Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2008 at 12:28 am

Thanks, RWE. I thought some excellent points were made in this article and will pass it on to others.


Posted by Walter E. Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2008 at 2:24 am

Except for socially, the differences an education imparts seldom goes beyond 5 years in the real world.


Posted by Mom of 3, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jul 26, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Thanks for the interesting reading. I think that good parenting can offset many of the "disadvantages." Parents need to keep kids grounded and teach them by example that everyone is a human being with feelings. Remember that the mailman, janitor, waiter or maid isn't just a servant. And remember that no matter how intelligent or knowledgeable you are, you can still learn something from other people you consider less intelligent.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 26, 2008 at 3:23 pm

One of the most interesting stories I heard when I moved here as a pre-teen many years ago, was that David Packard of Hewlett-Packard, who lived in Los Altos Hills, drove a "regular" car rather than a flashy red exotic costly car. (I hope this story was accurate!)The point was, I was told, he had a lot of character and didn't need to show off to others (there is a tendency to do this with cars...)


Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm

I don't think that everyone driving a showy car is wanting to brag off to others. Of course, you don't need a Porsche or Ferrari to drive around town. Sure, some buy them to show off, but others may buy them because they have become financially successful enough to afford one so it makes them feel good to drive it as their reward for hard work.


Posted by As far as it goes, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:32 am

Paly Alum -

Showing off is a telling reward.


Posted by Paul, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2008 at 11:33 am

"Except for socially, the differences an education imparts seldom goes beyond 5 years in the real world."

Astute observation, Walter. It logically must follow that a high school education, or the lack of same, has no effect on a person's earning power after age 23 (five years after the normal HS graduation age of 18). Therefore all this whining about high school dropouts and quality of education in general is for nothing, and we could save a bundle of taxpayer money if we closed all high schools and colleges immediately. We could save much more if this phenomenon extends to grammar school as well.


Posted by Reymundo, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 7:30 am

That was a thought-provoking article, but overall I think the author's arguments are overblown. Graduates of elite schools don't have a monopoly on being insular and not relating well to people outside their sphere. Nor are they the only ones who feel existential angst as young adults. The notion that those elite graduates enjoy a real sense of entitlement because of all the advantages and privileges they enjoy in life might seem to contradict the egalitarian values our country is supposedly based on. But from what I've observed, for better or worse, this is simply reality.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2008 at 10:23 am

The true elite employ domestics to deal with plumbers, etc.


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