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Thread: Meritocracy

  1. #1
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    Meritocracy

    I’ve been noticing more books and articles lately on the subject of “meritocracy”; a word originally coined for a satirical novel but now taken very seriously. Does it really exist, or is it just a cover for a caste system based on access to the best schools, internships and other not inexpensive “resume investments”? Is the top 10% “hoarding opportunity”, or just looking out for it’s children?

    Is New York right to consider eliminating gifted programs for egalitarian reasons? Is the Trump phenomenon at least partly due to resentment of a perceived elite?

    Is it even worth pursuing elite status? I may be too comfortable with my own mediocrity, but a lot of the “successful” people I know seem to work too hard and worry a lot about maintaining their status.

    And if it exists, and if it’s a problem, what can be done about it?

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Being a mediocre fish in a mediocre pond is fine with me. Those of us in flyover country with our degrees from state U who have our $150,000 houses without quartz countertops and our non-German cars CAN be quite content with life. We are even happy.


    I don’t want to compete in the strivery lanes of the coasts. I don’t want to be in the 1% or even the 10%.

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    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I'm also completely happy being a non-striving, middle-everything individual.

    But I do support gifted programs (and schools, for that matter) for those who otherwise would just be languishing in public schools (and who can't afford private ones). I have nothing against meritocracies, really, as long as they're truly benefiting the exceptionally smart/hardworking/talented, and not the lazy scions of the 1%.

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    It seems like it was easier for older generations to opt for a life of comfortable mediocrity than it is today. There were more pretty-good jobs in the middle range if you were willing to work pretty hard. Outside the really elite schools, you could get a decent education in a State U without plunging yourself into significant debt.

    I’m not sure what’s changed. Expectations maybe. People seem a bit more competitive now. I hear about families now feeling they failed if a toddler doesn’t make the cut for a pre-school. Technology almost certainly. Software and automation reducing the need for brains, brawn and discipline. Globalization perhaps. Maybe the culture. Shifting values. I don’t know.

    I’m kind of glad I was born where I was born at the time I was born. I feel like I kind of won the historical lottery.

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    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LDAHL View Post
    ...
    I’m kind of glad I was born where I was born at the time I was born. I feel like I kind of won the historical lottery.
    I feel like I was born about 50 years too soon, personally. I do feel fortunate not to have missed the seventies and the freedoms they brought; I would have absolutely hated having been born any earlier.

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    Gifted programs are important because smart kids get bored and you don’t want to lose their interest. I was thankful that we could afford to pay for our local college. I don’t hang out with people keeping up with the Joneses. I spent most of my life in the Midwest. No one in Nevada cares about the things mentioned either.

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    The argument in NYC is that white and Asian kids are over represented in the programs’ enrollment. I don’t think ability is distributed differently among different ethnicities, but perhaps some groups are better able to prepare their kids to compete. I’m not sure how you adjust for that or even if you should. I heard the SAT people were working on an “adversity score” to help handicap college admissions.

    I was once told it was immoral for me to send my kid to private school because it was unfair to the other kids. I don’t know how you could convince “privileged” families not to do everything possible for their kids’ future.

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LDAHL View Post
    The argument in NYC is that white and Asian kids are over represented in the programs’ enrollment.
    Should probably take them out of their home environments and put them in foster homes, to balance the scales.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LDAHL View Post
    I’m not sure what’s changed. Expectations maybe. People seem a bit more competitive now. I hear about families now feeling they failed if a toddler doesn’t make the cut for a pre-school. Technology almost certainly. Software and automation reducing the need for brains, brawn and discipline. Globalization perhaps. Maybe the culture. Shifting values. I don’t know.

    I’m kind of glad I was born where I was born at the time I was born. I feel like I kind of won the historical lottery.
    Things are definitely more competitive and driven. Look at the recent celebrity scandal where college admissions people were bribed to get their unqualified children into selective schools. When I worked for the Board of Education, the high school principal would bemoan to me that parents would storm his office insisting that he give their child an A+ instead of an A so their chances at Ivy League wouldn't be diminished.

    My own daughter was an achiever in academics, captain of the soccer team, winner of a state golf tournament, and even in movies and Broadway plays, and she was denied admission to 3 colleges, waitlisted for one, and accepted by one.

    And, ironically, it's the college-educated millennials having a hard time finding jobs, and to save my life I can't find a plumber, electrician, or carpenter who has time for me.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    Things are definitely more competitive and driven. Look at the recent celebrity scandal where college admissions people were bribed to get their unqualified children into selective schools. When I worked for the Board of Education, the high school principal would bemoan to me that parents would storm his office insisting that he give their child an A+ instead of an A so their chances at Ivy League wouldn't be diminished.

    My own daughter was an achiever in academics, captain of the soccer team, winner of a state golf tournament, and even in movies and Broadway plays, and she was denied admission to 3 colleges, waitlisted for one, and accepted by one.

    And, ironically, it's the college-educated millennials having a hard time finding jobs, and to save my life I can't find a plumber, electrician, or carpenter who has time for me.

    Catherine, I think it's astounding that your daughter did not get into 4 of the colleges right off the bat! If I were a candidate today, I would probably not qualify for the school I went to. My brother's daughter did not get into Harvard, and she was a legacy.

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