Excellent Sheep

Excellent Sheep

The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to A Meaningful Life

eBook - 2014
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A groundbreaking manifesto for people searching for the kind of insight on leading, thinking, and living that elite schools should be--but aren't--providing. As a professor at Yale, Bill Deresiewicz saw something that troubled him deeply. His students, some of the nation's brightest minds, were adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think critically and creatively, and how to find a sense of purpose. Excellent Sheep takes a sharp look at the high-pressure conveyor belt that begins with parents and counselors who demand perfect grades and culminates in the skewed applications Deresiewicz saw firsthand as a member of Yale's admissions committee. As schools shift focus from the humanities to "practical" subjects like economics and computer science, students are losing the ability to think in innovative ways. Deresiewicz explains how college should be a time for self-discovery, when students can establish their own values and measures of success, so they can forge their own path. He addresses parents, students, educators, and anyone who's interested in the direction of American society, featuring quotes from real students and graduates he has corresponded with over the years, candidly exposing where the system is broken and clearly presenting solutions.
Publisher: New York, NY : Free Press, [2014]
ISBN: 9781476702735
147670273X
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc
Alternative Title: Xcellent sheep

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lukasevansherman
Nov 05, 2018

This book made quite a splash (At least among people who can afford to go to schools like Harvard and Yale.) when it came out a few years ago, but already seems dated. It probably made good conversation for one or two cocktail parties, if nothing else. It's one of those, here's the problem with this (America, liberals, conservatives, capitalism, trigger warnings) narrative, which are always biased and seldom enlightening. William Deresiewicz, a former English professor at Yale, makes the argument that higher education (Well, his focus is on the elite schools.) is more about turning out conformists, careerists, and capitalists than free thinkers who care about art and the self. It's an almost quaint argument than anyone who has spent time in the humanities will be familiar with. Almost all of his evidence ("A student told me. . .") is anecdotal, which makes it hard to take his case all that seriously. The thing is, I agree with most of what he says, but it's hardly a novel argument and his line of argument is sloppy and lacking in much scholarship. It also feels hopelessly out of touch with the many students who can't go to college or can't afford to go to an Ivy. So, I guess, don't go to Yale.

t
TippyCanoeGal
Oct 27, 2014

I have not yet read this book, but I heard a long interview with the author and I find his argument compelling. We spent time at Yale and when it came time to send our own child to college, we steered him away from the Ivies and from the huge state universities (where these days, most undergraduate courses are taught by grad students or underpaid adjunct faculty) and straight towards the many small liberal arts campuses that treat their students as individuals and provide excellent mentorship for undergrads (as far as I am concerned, the Ivies are best at graduate study). Another excellent book for parents and high school students is "Colleges that Change Lives."

s
StarGladiator
Oct 02, 2014

A silly, silly book, although I agree with the overall ideas and opinions of the author, the point of Yale, Harvard, Princeton, et cetera, is indeed a criminal system to turn out future criminals and their lackeys. As Gerard Celente phrases it: /// The trouble with America is bullets, bombs, banks, Harvard, Princeton and Yale! \\\ It is the super-criminals' comparable training system, much in the way baseball and football have their minor leagues, some eventually moving up to the majors. The author appears not to grasp the system. If I ever run into an honest Harvard grad, this author will be the first to know it!

Sayford Aug 23, 2014

the problem with the book is that the author believes that everybody has his values HYP,etc current grads value making a-lot of money in investment banking,etc is what motivates them,the author doesn't understand this,they don't want to be poets...

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