Oct 22, 2009

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

by William Deresiewicz

this article has been circulating on the web for a while but I feel I have to make a note of it. The specifics might differ depending on which side of the education divide one is on, but the main observations have been echoed in my personal experiences over the last 8 yrs in the US.

"the first disadvantage of an elite education... is that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you. Elite schools pride themselves on their diversity, but that diversity is almost entirely a matter of ethnicity and race. With respect to class, these schools are largely—indeed increasingly—homogeneous."

"the second disadvantage... is that an elite education inculcates a false sense of self-worth"

"being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your assumptions and the system that enforces them.But students who get into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to work within the system, so it’s almost impossible for them to see outside it, to see that it’s even there."

-- that last point made me think of Starr & Bowker's 'infrastructural inversion' as a method or rather a conceptual approach that points to the need to become aware of and uncover the 'infrastructural' assumptions behind any social system, including IT. So,how might that approach work when applied to the education system? is there really *one* infrastructure to 'invert', or , more likely, an intricate web of mutually reinforcing social scaffoldings across multiple layers of 'the infrastructure' each with its own associated assumptions and unquestioned practices? Where does one start?