Organization Boys?

Does David Brooks’ description  (“What It Takes” in today’s New York Times) sound familiar?

“About a decade ago, one began to notice a profusion of Organization Kids at elite college campuses. These were bright students who had been formed by the meritocratic system placed in front of them. They had great grades, perfect teacher recommendations, broad extracurricular interests, admirable self-confidence and winning personalities.

If they had any flaw, it was that they often had a professional and strategic attitude toward life. They were not intellectual risk-takers. They regarded professors as bosses to be pleased rather than authorities to be challenged. As one admissions director told me at the time, they were prudential rather than poetic.”


4 thoughts on “Organization Boys?

  1. Jim,

    I do look forward to seeing “Power Point – Volume I” in print, as a paperback. It will be a great take-away. memento and long-term guide for all.

  2. I am inclined not to be judgemental. I think that if I were growing up in this hyper-competitive climate — unlike the comparatively secure and therefore laid-back sixties of my own experience — I’d probably take the same hyper-practical approach to my education.

    After all, “love of learning” has been a privilege of the leisure classes since the ancient Greeks — whether that leisure was the product of inherited wealth or prevailing socio-economic conditions.

    My biggest concern about this pragmatic generation is what of lasting value they are going to contribute to our civilization.

  3. The article in question, about U.S. Supreme court nominee Elena Kagan, concludes that as a product of her hot-housed education (Hunter College School, Princeton, Harvard Law) she is no more than a clever, if diligent, functionary. It was ever thus: these great American universities lead the world in instrumental reason, but are hardly places that have ever cultivated much in the way of poetry or philosophy.

    Can you think of a single Ivy league poet or philosopher in the first rank? Me neither.

    Interestingly, the author of the article in question, David Brooks, is a graduate of the University of Chicago, a once original and iconoclastic institution that actually believed, as they charmingly put it, in the “life of the mind”. Alas, no longer. The Arts Quadrangle was shamelessly appropriated by the Business School to make way for the executive MBA students who have churned up waves of cash.

    Creative people tend to be like butterflies: beautiful to behold but unlikely to be harnessed. The silkworm never morphs into its more beautiful cousin, but is preferred for its worth.

    Adam de Pencier
    English Department
    Upper Canada College

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