Meritocracy, Elitism, and Class Issues

<p>Poly--yes your situation is what I get in Chicago. The only looks I get are from those who know i am an educator. Go figure.</p>

<p>@ExieMITAlum: Sorry to break it to you, but New Jersey is not part of New England...</p>

<p>I once took a cab from Times Square to Newark. I read the Times, took a nap, and awoke with a startle when I saw Fenway Park off to my right.</p>

<p>I think it is very understandable that people are somewhat reticent about the schools or colleges they have attended or are attending -- especially well-known, highly prestigious ones. After all, pre-conceived attitudes, stemming from outsider ignorance, can come into play when something like that is revealed, and it makes things uncomfortable for both parties.</p>

<p>In my youth, if when I was asked where I was from, I had to say that my father was in the Foreign Service so I had been living in several countries. Forgetting the fact that I could not pinpoint one place as "home", they would invariably say (and so in their mind have me 'pegged'): "Oh, then you've been all over the world!" The truth was that, no, I haven't been "all over the world", I have only lived in six different countries -- a very different thing! -- but for most people it's much easier to dismiss somebody with that catch-all (and rather stupid) phrase. Of course, I'd get into real trouble if I said my father was a diplomat, because then there'd be a palpable stiffening, a step backward and something to the effect of: "Well, excuse me!" ...such is the result of ignorant pre-conceptions. lol</p>


<p>Okay, smart aleck! :-)</p>

<p>The point is, to many people in the middle of the country it is - especially when talking about Princeton. Kind of like the old joke in the New Yorker about the middle of the country being a blank space - fly over country. It's a euphemism.</p>

<p>@ Pulsar - don't make me smack you straight - I was almost getting used to your moving out of the dark side. Don't go back now ;-)</p>

<p>In my city (largest metropolitan area in the state) MIT means Michigan branch of ITT tech. The one that advertises. Sigh.</p>

<p>But the good news is that when getting private lessons for my D we ventured over to the local conservatory. The head of the department interviewed her and was polite but reserved. Then she heard my D was going to Taft and the mood completely changed. Turns out the interviewer was from Yale, and commented it was rare to find a bright kid who was able to get out of the city with parent support. She had college friends from Taft. We were assigned one of the best instructors at the school and got emails saying "let me know how she's doing!"</p>

<p>So yep - when you find those pockets of enlightenment - it's like nirvana. But for the most part we're forced to stay in the closet for having dreams outside of the norm.</p>

<p>There should be a national support group for parents like us - with bi-annual chapter meetings. BS Parents United. Maybe CC is it. lol!</p>

<p>I really liked this quote that I came across:</p>

<p>"The difference between the most dissimilar characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, seems to arise not so much from nature, as from habit, custom, and education."</p>

<p>Adam Smith</p>

<p>I laughed at this bumper sticker, I confess</p>


<p>I've found this thread very interesting. I have a friend who attended Harvard and is constantly drawing MORE attention to that fact with the length she goes to NOT to draw attention to it! It's pretty funny.</p>

<p>Some Americans like to put stickers on their cars. Where they ski, that their car climbed Mt. Washington, where they live, vacation, shop. fif thinks it is silly, but hey, it isn't his car.</p>

<p>As they say (with a sticker) in Bedford, NY - BFD.</p>

<p>The USA is a very car oriented culture, much more so than Europeans. I guess the sticker phenomenon just stems from that. It's the perfect blend of a culture that is both car-centric and status conscious.</p>

<p>Where do you fall on the parenting spectrum? Good thought provoking article in the Atlantic.
The</a> Ivy Delusion - Magazine - The Atlantic</p>

<p>Great article. I've always been aware for a long time of the trade offs. What happens though if you have a child whose self-stated goal is a top school. The kids he goes to school with are very aware of the "great college race" and have been since elementary school..</p>

<p>Another fascinating discussion of meritocracy and the elite tradition is Shamus Rahman Khan's 2011 book "Privilege, the making of an adolescent elite at St. Paul's School". He returned to SPS as a sociology professor from Columbia to study the SPS community. His experience attending as a Pakistani student in 1993 - he desribes all the minority students being in a single dorm in 1993, and having difficulty participating in the social life of the school. On his return, there now is only a single dorm left for the entitled "legacies", and the majority of the community believing that "hard work" had earned them a spot. How they got from then to now looks like a great read.</p>

<p>I loved this bit from Flanagan's Atlantic article:</p>

<p>"the beliefs underpinning [Chua's] approach: kids are inherently strong, not weak; self-esteem derives from accomplishing difficult and worthwhile pursuits; adults are better than children at judging what does and does not constitute a valuable or enriching experience; the better you get at something, the more you will enjoy doing it; and a great deal of what is on offer to American teenagers these days is not only coarsening but downright dangerous."</p>