William “How Do You Pronounce That?” Deresiewicz is a Yale and Columbia educated author who has the balls to call out the college admission process as “teaching kids to jump through hoops”. In his new book, “Excellent Sheep“, Deresiewicz exposes in vivid detail the mindless, arduous process of memorizing and regurgitating information, taking standardized tests, and cow towing to admissions counselors that students put themselves through in order to reach the Ivy Leagues.
Like every true forward thinking leader in the world, Deresiewicz points out that true leadership doesn’t come from following the rules, conforming, and getting goods grades. And according to his book, this is the reason for such a terrible lack of quality in the leadership class.
There’s just so much to criticize about college. If criticizing higher education were a breakfast buffet it would definitely be the one at the Wynn, which includes an Omelette Bar, Gelato, and 5 different types of pancakes. I could cite all the stats and figures about student debt or underemployment, I could even point out the fact that there is a class at Princeton called “Getting Dressed“, that encourages young people to think critically about life by reflecting on their clothes and the fact that they are paying a moron like Professor Jenna Weismann’s salary to have them reflect on life and their clothes.
But beyond all those many problems is an even bigger, systemic problem: colleges are not training young people to be leaders. It’s training them to be mindless sheep. If you look at the world today, there is clearly a lack of visionary leadership. We’ve already lost Steve Jobs. Obama was a bust. And we hate Congress, because our elected leaders have turned out to be gutless assholes. We presume some new leader will be forged in the fire of our higher education system.
But not so.
Deresiewicz points out that most graduates form Ivy League schools are entering the hellish hordes of the financial industry, whose sole purpose is to suck the life force from the rest of us. Financial consultants and Stock Brokers are simply glorified gamblers playing games with fake money: they don’t CREATE anything. And why should they? The educational factory doesn’t promote creative thinking or problem solving. That’s also why so many employers are frustrated with graduates, because they can’t adapt to the workforce after 16 years of memorizing flash cards and Googling everything.
You can watch Deresiewicz on The Colbert Report laying it out for their original SC himself right here:
What’s hilarious is that the ultimate message of “Excellent Sheep“, written by an extremely well educated man, is to Skip College and everything it represents. Deresiewicz encourages you to think for yourself, read the books that interest you and forge your own path in life by following your own compass.
That’s some damn good advice.
The rest of Deresiewicz’s advice is a little misguided. He then goes on to suggest that the solution is to study the liberal arts in college, which is ridiculous. Study the humanities on your own. You can learn more from watching a few NOVA specials and Ken Burn documentaries than you will sitting in a classroom listening to lectures and reading and writing terrible essays.
But the underlying message is still