What is a more accurate sign of intelligence, the ability to memorize and obey rules or the ability to question the reasons for the rules? Is it best to measure a person’s success in life with the things they were able to obtain or the things they were able to create? What should America’s top universities be teaching to our brightest young people, to analyses or act; These are the questions William Deresiewicz’s attempts to answer in his new book Excellent Sheep, The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, which he will discuss and sign at Powell City of Books on Tuesday, August 19th at 7:30 PM.
Deresiewicz, who is a graduate of Columbia and was a Professor of English at Yale for 23 years writes about the failings of the Ivy League to teach students to think critically and creatively.
He discusses his time spend on the Yale Board of admissions where he noticed a preference for type A personalities. He writes that the students were selected by grades and the number of extracurricular activities in which they participated rather than their critical thinking abilities.
He points out that the most popular major has become finance and claims that the reason for colleges wanting students to go into business is because they want to be able to procure large gifts from their alumni in the future.
Mr. Deresiewicz suggests that the top liberal arts colleges in America are not teaching, liberal arts or encouraging students to ponder the major question of the world.
He encourages the schools to stop slanting their admissions criteria in favor of wealthy families, by putting less emphasis on things like AP Classes and expensive after school clubs. He encourages students to only talk to their parents once a week and that they discuss what they learned and not their grades.
The book ultimately attempts to establish that by not teaching critical thinking the Ivy League is producing future leaders who will be too timid and neurotic to change anything.
Admission to the lecture is free an early arrival is recommended.