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Purpose of elite schools?

CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 966 Member
I stumbled upon this in another thread: A letter from the head of school at Trinity, perhaps the most prestigious of the Manhattan private schools and certainly the one said to have the "best" college matriculation list: https://trinityschoolnyc.myschoolapp.com/podium/push/default.aspx?i=177980&s=390&snd=092c7b22-276c-420f-83bf-1d259e37e6b7

It is astounding.

From the letter: "... our students’ default understanding of the purpose of their schoolwork becomes to make good grades, gain admissions to a highly selective college, set themselves on a path of lifelong superior achievement. And this default setting -- one of narrowly individualistic self-advancement -- has been locked into place by a frenetic pace of life and expectations of perfection that devour the energy and time students need to reflect on the meaning of their schoolwork. To deconstruct this default understanding of Trinity as a credentialing factory, we need to actively develop in our students compelling alternative understandings of the socially redeeming purposes their knowledge and skills could and should serve. If we do not, our well-intentioned work to develop their powers of critical thinking and creative self-expression will serve to secure for our students a comfortable perch atop a cognitive elite that is self-serving, callous, and spiritually barren."

Also: ..."we are seeking to build a broadly shared ethos of citizenship and public service throughout our school community. And it is the building of this ethos that is the only valid social justification for the extraordinary resources we are pouring into our students’ education. Without this ethos, I am afraid we are, for a majority of our students, just a very, very, very expensive finishing school."


@SevenDad , @seekers , @gardenstategal , @cameo43 , @ThacherParent , @GoatMama , @momof3nyc ... I suspect you will have much to say about this one!

(I can't believe I missed it when the NYT wrote about it in the fall!)

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Replies to: Purpose of elite schools?

  • GnarWhailGnarWhail Registered User Posts: 314 Member
    Disingenuous? Is that a word in John Allman's native language? Apparently not.
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 2,159 Senior Member
    edited January 12
    This follows with the socio political indoctrination at most elite academic institutions which are overwhelming liberal. No need to worry about marketable skills if you can regurgitate the pablum and gain a job as a career bureaucrat or otherwise vetted corpucrat.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    edited January 12
    Not since the High Middle Ages have we witnessed the selling of indulgences on so grand a scale as in our edutocracy. The best thing about our modern period is that the liberal, entitled purchasers don't even have to pay anything!

    Amazing that the Head of School at Trinity had the time to pen that missive in between calls from would-be Trinity parents from their offices at 200 West Street. Maybe he was on the beach in East Hampton?
  • LadyMeowMeowLadyMeowMeow Registered User Posts: 265 Junior Member
    Is it too cynical to suggest that this is letter is didactically performative, a demonstration of how future Jared Kushner-esque Harvard applicants should learn to speak about themselves? “Yes, I was privileged enough to go to a credentialing factory, but there I learned – rhetorical move! – to deconstruct that default understanding of education and am now committed to social justice and public service and whatever." (Now get out of my way and let me into Harvard. I have a consulting job to get to.)
  • NYCMomof3NYCMomof3 Registered User Posts: 492 Member
    edited January 12
  • CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 966 Member
    edited January 12
    @Center

    Does the current curriculum at your kids' boarding school focus on practical, marketable skills? Or does it focus on critical thinking, Humanities, Science, and Math?
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 18,960 Senior Member
    I don't have an issue with the article. I'm surprised so many of you do, especially those sending kids to schools that have a motto like Exeter's and Andover's:
    (Not for Self)
    Finis Origine Pendet
    (The End Depends Upon the Beginning)

    or St. Paul's School prayer:
    “Grant, O Lord, that in all the joys of life, we may never forget to be kind.
    Help us to be unselfish in friendship, thoughtful of those less happy than ourselves, and eager to bear the burdens of others.
    Through Jesus Christ our Savior, Amen.”

    What exactly is controversial here?
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 18,960 Senior Member
    edited January 12
    Groton: Motto: Cui Servire Est Regnare (For Whom Service Is Perfect Freedom)

    SPS:
    SCHOOL MISSION
    St. Paul’s School is a fully residential academic community that pursues the highest
    ideals of scholarship. We strive to challenge our students intellectually and morally
    – to nurture a love for learning and a commitment to engage as servant leaders
    in a complex world. Founded in the Episcopal tradition, St. Paul’s School models
    and teaches a respect for self and others; for one’s spiritual, physical, and emotional
    well-being; for the natural environment; and for service to a greater good.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    edited January 12
    ^ I don't have any problem with Trinity School whatsoever. In fact, I think it is one of the very few private schools in New York City where there are a good number of very smart kids, perhaps the only one in Manhattan depending upong one's definitions of a "good number" and "very smart" (I'm using my own here).

    It seems that the Head of School has a problem with what the school is. He is the one writing the letter, (ostensibly) criticizing the school, no? Well, I think he actually has no problem whatsoever - he just wants to appear like he does because it gains him points in the circles in which he runs.

    These heads of schools positions are incredibly cushy, and provide all sorts of benefits in addition to the almost more than $1.1MM per year in enumerated compensation that the Head of School at Trinity takes in each year. (It's easy to check the Forms 990 for schools - public record.)

    They all talk a good game, and there is always a ready audience for it. But remember what these schools are all about: preservation of privilege. Pretending that they are not is part of the Head's job.
  • noanswersnoanswers Registered User Posts: 188 Junior Member
    My kids have attended another NYC private school which also sends over 50% of their seniors to the top 20 colleges. However, all through their schooling, it was never about doing things to go to the best colleges. The school has always challenged the students in academics and ECs. To get the most out of their high school experience. Even though the grades may not always turn out perfect, majority of the colleges know the rigor of the education in these schools, which accounts for the high percentage of acceptance into the elite colleges.
  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 Registered User Posts: 632 Member
    Reflective of our society in so many ways. If you cannot hold up a mirror and see yourself as you truly are, it's not because the mirror isn't working. I wouldn't dip into the details but folks morality and success are not the same thing. Nor is using your particular political point of view (whatever it is) to clarify your morality/or clarify what you think others should do. I think some will be taken in by that letter and some will running away screaming. I'm not sure when educators will begin to write letters about the administration. After all the parents are presumably smart enough to pay that high tuition which means they might not need lessons in how to live. Or do they? Wow, I definitely grew up in a different time. Everytime I read something, I think wait, what?
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 2,159 Senior Member
    Only the very rich and the very privileged can afford to pretend its all about doing good and serving others. Its not. Don't get me wrong I value and appreciate the noble ideas proffered 200 or 300 years ago by wealthy white men who didnt have to work for a living. But lets not pretend the world isnt a different place, that 50% of kids on financial aid wont need good paying jobs one day and they may not be able to teach in an inner city school rather than being a lawyer.
  • CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 966 Member
    @center... Ask any homeless person: Poor people are much more generous and giving ;-)
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    If you want to see a school in NYC that actually walks the walk, check out Regis High School. College placement is almost as good as at Trinity, which is saying a lot as a good percentage of Trinity kids come in as shoo-ins, and there are very few connected kids at Regis. BTW, kids at Regis are on average a bit smarter than at Trinity, so that might be a bonus for some. Tuition is free.
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