How John Grisham became a writer
How Edward Witten became a physicist
Paris versus New York
Down with determinants
Disadvantages of an elite education
30 lessons learned in computing over the last ten years
Man causes car collision to save someone’s life
If you don’t mind me asking but how do you find all those links? Twitter?
I find most of them via Twitter or blogs I subscribe to.
The original speech in which Witten’s story is mentioned is worth reading.
The piece on the elite education had made a lot of noise when it came out. I think many would agree that a 4GPA at a flagship public school (of which there are many) is much more valuable than one at an elite school. As a teaching assistant at Stanford however we graded our engineering students on a curve, and the median was B- or so. I don’t feel we were too lenient.
One more observation: although Stanford could be considered elite, never I have seen the smugness that I have witnessed at Harvard. I think that MIT or CalTech are similar to Stanford in this respect. I think that article should have titled “The Disadvantages of a LIBERAL Elite Education”.
Gappy: I could believe that. It’s harder to bluff in engineering. If you haven’t seen it, you might like this quote to that effect from Herbert Hoover.
While elite engineering schools are not as lenient as their liberal arts counterparts, we still suffer from the same sense of elitism, if not to the same degree as Ivy League alums. Also, Deresiewicz’s point on elite schools simply being very fancy vocational training applies to our schools (if not more so). My alma mater (Caltech), viewed its undergraduates majoring in the sciences as simply training for the tenure track. If you wanted bildung, you could take that elective, if you wanted. The same implicit comparisons were made, sometimes in the negative (“what’s with your midterm scores, you guys are supposed to be smart…”), but more often through example: Our faculty generally considered anyone over the age of 30 without a PhD to be an idiot and treated the campus staff accordingly. That said, the clubbiness of a small school taught me that while a professor may have the official authority, his secretary actually wields it. Finally, as graduates of elite engineering schools, our predicament with a plumber in our kitchen would be different: We’d be embarrassed that the problem that required the plumber escaped our (alleged) highly trained troubleshooting skills.
In case you haven’t heard of “bildung” before reading tm’s comment, here’s a definition.
Hi this is Steve from The American Scholar. I just wanted to point out that William Deresiewicz, whose story is linked in this post, is now writing a weekly blog for us at our website. We are very excited and hope that you keep an eye on it.
[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John D. Cook and igorcarron, igorcarron. igorcarron said: RT @JohnDCook: Weekend miscellany http://bit.ly/bpsCIy How John Grisham became a writer, Paris vs. New York, a brave engineer, … [...]
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