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Purpose of elite schools?


Replies to: Purpose of elite schools?

  • sunnyschoolsunnyschool Registered User Posts: 850 Member
    edited January 13
    @SatchelSF - But you do know it's about more than IQ or test scores right? These schools offer a whole-child experience that allows them to grow in many ways - academic, athletics, music, community, social, exposure to different cultures, etc.

    My comparison is to (strong) public schools, and I'm thankful that my son - who loves learning anything/everything - can attend a place where they genuinely care about his overall development and what kind of person he is becoming. And he doesn't go to an acronym school. Also, his school gave no time to prep for PSAT - as they don't believe in overemphasis on test scores. But, I bet day students at those top NYC schools are getting test prep - perhaps at school and definitely out of school. Boarding students don't have that flexibility to attend test prep centers or get private tutors and they don't have lots of free time.

    FYI, although my student was a top math student in public school, the public school refused to let kids accelerate or to do math competitions. He was in G&T but it was lame. We didn't know what the competitions were called when he was younger and the school kept telling us "we don't believe in those sorts of competitions". He was "dumbed down" by the curriculum and by the admin not thinking that any students should be accelerated in math because "we are a strong public school". Math competitions are somewhat regional - depending on where they encourage kids to do this. And they require some preparation, even for the smartest kids.

    Schools like Stuyvesant are burning out their kids. This is not necessarily the best preparation for life. I'm happy my student is at a school that believes in balance. Maybe my student is less likely to go to Harvard, but hopefully he will end up at the place with the best fit (and frankly, we were not impressed with Harvard's tour - led by a girl who talked about her professor who chose to spend an entire semester on making Hot Sauce in the required Engineering course, and who couldn't answer any questions about computer science).
    Post edited by skieurope on
  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 Registered User Posts: 815 Member
    edited January 13
    @SatchelSF - thank you for qualifying/clarifying. I don’t fundamentally disagree with a lot of what you’re saying, although I think you underestimate the degree to which some of the high-end privates “counsel out” kids who started there in kindergarten but didn’t fulfill academic expectations, often replacing them (particularly at the high school entry point) with proven academic stars, many of whom are on scholarship. Also, a good number of those wealthy and powerful New York parents, as I’m sure you know, happen also to be really smart, with similarly intelligent children. Sure, there are some useless wastrels at the privates (more at some than at others), but there are also plenty of kids who underperform or burn out in the atmosphere of a magnet school even though they tested well enough to get in there. As for outliers, I don’t know how to analyze which schools they might most likely attend, or what that implies for average “smartness” at those schools.

    Returning to the topic of this thread, and the Trinity headmaster, I think the New York private school scene is just a variation in miniature on what goes on at Harvard and other top private universities, explained in layman’s terms by Malcolm Gladwell a number of years ago in his excellent article “Getting In: The social logic of Ivy League admissions” (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/10/10/getting-in).

    Essentially, Trinity and its peers, analogously to Harvard and its peers, feel driven by self-interest to employ a “best-graduates”, rather than a “best-students” approach to admissions, because their focus is on enrolling, providing academic and social capital to, and graduating kids who will be most successful in the next stage of their lives, not *primarily* those who are the “smartest” by some set of criteria (although some of them are, because pure academic achievement is one path to success). Hunter and, say, Caltech, make the opposite choice.

    Each is happy with the results it gets from its approach. In particular, Harvard sees its mission as educating the world’s future leaders in many spheres, so that it can increase its power, reach and ability thereby to educate even more of the world’s leaders. The route to achieving that is emphatically *not* giving the 2,000 offers for the freshman class each year exclusively to the applicants with the highest academic credentials. Caltech does that sort of thing, because its almost exclusive concern is recruiting those who available evidence suggests will become the best scientists. Harvard (or Trinity) doesn’t want to be Caltech (or Stuy), and Caltech (Stuy) couldn’t be Harvard (Trinity) even if it wanted to.

    In this regard, it seems to me that the Trinity headmaster is getting paid for performance. Similarly to a private university president, in addition to running an academic enterprise, this includes cultivating relationships with wealthy and influential alumni and parents so as to be able to make that $45m renovation, thereby continuing to attract many whom Trinity considers to be the most desirable students, who are likely to be admitted to the most desirable colleges and go on to positions of wealth/influence in the world, which is seen to be good for Trinity. As the Gladwell article points out, smart as those Hunter kids are, far fewer of them seem to be on that trajectory (but most of them seem to be happy that way).
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,818 Senior Member
    Its really just about maintaining the ruling class....
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,818 Senior Member
    I just love Malcolm Gladwell.
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