Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

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Simon and Schuster, Aug 19, 2014 - Social Science - 256 pages
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A groundbreaking manifesto about what our nation’s top schools should be—but aren’t—providing: “The ex-Yale professor effectively skewers elite colleges, their brainy but soulless students (those ‘sheep’), pushy parents, and admissions mayhem” (People).

As a professor at Yale, William 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. Now he argues that elite colleges are turning out conformists without a compass.

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, students are losing the ability to think independently. It is essential, says Deresiewicz, that college be a time for self-discovery, when students can establish their own values and measures of success in order to forge their own paths. He features quotes from real students and graduates he has corresponded with over the years, candidly exposing where the system is broken and offering clear solutions on how to fix it.

Excellent Sheep is likely to make…a lasting mark….He takes aim at just about the entirety of upper-middle-class life in America….Mr. Deresiewicz’s book is packed full of what he wants more of in American life: passionate weirdness” (The New York Times).
 

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EXCELLENT SHEEP: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

An extended essay about how elite colleges and universities are failing to serve students and society.Deresiewicz (A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the ... Read full review

Contents

Contents Introduction
4
Part 1 Sheep
5
The Students
7
The History
27
The Training
41
The Institutions
59
Self
75
What Is College For?
77
Schools
147
Great Books
149
Spirit Guides
173
12
190
Your Guide to the Rankings
191
Society
203
Welcome to the Club
205
The SelfOvercoming of the Hereditary Meritocracy
225

Inventing Your Life
89
Leadership
131
41 59 77 89 131 149 173 191 205 225
243
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About the author (2014)

William Deresiewicz was a professor at Yale until 2008. He is the author of the landmark essays “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education” and “Solitude and Leadership” and is a frequent speaker on campuses around the country. A contributing writer for The Nation and a contributing editor for The New Republic and The American Scholar, he is the author of A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter. Visit BillDeresiewicz.com.

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