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    BOOKEY Book Summary and Review

    The Price of Prestige: Examining the Culture of Achievement in Excellent Sheep

    29. Januar 2024

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    Chapter 1:Summary of Excellent Sheep book

    "Excellent Sheep" by William Deresiewicz is a critical examination of contemporary elite education in America. The book argues that there is a tremendous pressure among students to conform to institutional expectations and pursue a narrow definition of success.

    Deresiewicz, a former Yale professor, contends that top schools are primarily focused on producing high achievers who prioritize grades, prestigious careers, and material success. This system, according to the author, stifles creativity, intellectual curiosity, and true personal fulfillment.

    The book is divided into three parts. In the first part, Deresiewicz examines how the admissions process selects for conformity and perpetuates a narrow definition of excellence. He criticizes the emphasis on standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and resume building, arguing that these metrics do not accurately measure a student's potential for success or contribute to their personal growth.

    The second part of the book explores the consequences of this pressure to conform. Deresiewicz argues that students are driven by external validation and fear of failure, leading to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The author also discusses the impact on campus culture, as students avoid taking risks and engage in superficial activities to bolster their resumes.

    In the final section, Deresiewicz proposes potential solutions to the problems he outlines. He calls for a reevaluation of the priorities and values of higher education, advocating for a more diverse curriculum that encourages critical thinking, intellectual exploration, and the pursuit of personal passions.

    Overall, "Excellent Sheep" challenges the notions of success that are prevalent in elite education and advocates for a more holistic, individualized approach to learning. The book encourages students, parents, and educators to question the current system and strive for personal growth and self-discovery.

    Chapter 2:the meaning of Excellent Sheep book

    The phrase "Excellent Sheep" is taken from an observation made by Yale professor William Deresiewicz in a famous lecture titled "Solitude and Leadership," which later became the foundation for his book "Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life."

    In this book, Deresiewicz critiques the American higher education system, particularly the Ivy League and other elite institutions, for producing "excellent sheep." The term "excellent sheep" refers to highly accomplished students who excel academically and accumulate numerous achievements, but lack the ability to think critically, pursue their own passions, and live meaningful lives.

    Deresiewicz argues that these institutions focus too much on inculcating students with traits such as conformity, obedience, and competitive achievement. As a result, young people become more concerned with checking off boxes of success rather than cultivating their own intellectual and personal growth. He believes that this narrow focus on external measures of success leads to a sense of emptiness, conformity, and a lack of purpose in life.

    The book explores the detrimental effects of this system on students' personal well-being, mental health, and ability to genuinely engage with the world and its problems. Deresiewicz calls for a shift in the understanding of education, advocating for a broader approach that encourages intellectual curiosity, independent thinking, creativity, and the pursuit of one's passions.

    Ultimately, the meaning of "Excellent Sheep" is a critique of a system that values achievement over meaning, conformity over individuality, and personal success over societal engagement. It challenges students, parents, and policymakers to reflect on the true purpose of education and to strive for a more fulfilling and meaningful life beyond the pursuit of external accolades.

    Chapter 3:Excellent Sheep book chapters

    Chapter 1: The Disadvantages of Elite Education

    In this chapter, Deresiewicz discusses the disadvantages of elite education. He argues that elite universities focus too much on grades and extracurricular activities rather than fostering critical thinking and intellectual curiosity. He also criticizes the pressure to conform to societal expectations and the lack of diversity in thought and experience among students at these institutions.

    Chapter 2: The Incubator of the American Elite

    Deresiewicz explores how elite universities serve as incubators for the American elite. He discusses the concept of meritocracy and how it perpetuates social inequality. He also examines the admissions process and the qualities that these universities look for in applicants, highlighting the focus on prestige, achievement, and narrow definitions of success.

    Chapter 3: Excellent Horse-like Lady

    This chapter delves into the intense pressure students face at elite universities. Deresiewicz introduces the concept of the "excellent sheep," where students obediently follow the predetermined path to success without questioning their own desires or pursuing their own interests. He highlights the role of parental expectations and societal pressure in shaping students' motivations and aspirations.

    Chapter 4: The Shadow Curriculum

    Deresiewicz explores the hidden curriculum, or "shadow curriculum," at elite universities. He argues that students at these institutions are not adequately prepared for life outside of academia. He discusses the emphasis on credentials and the lack of focus on building character, practical skills, and ethical decision-making.

    Chapter 5: How to Get In and Out

    In this chapter, Deresiewicz provides advice on how to navigate the elite college admissions process. He discusses the importance of authentic self-expression in application essays and urges students to resist the pressure to conform. He also advises students to seek out intellectual passion and to think critically about what they want from their education.

    Chapter 6: How to Talk

    Deresiewicz argues that elite education fails to teach students how to communicate effectively. He highlights the prevalence of jargon and academic language among students and the lack of emphasis on clear, concise, and persuasive writing and speaking skills. He encourages students to learn how to communicate with a broader audience and to engage in meaningful conversations with people from different backgrounds.

    Chapter 7: How to Read

    In this chapter, Deresiewicz argues that elite education fails to teach students how to read critically. He criticizes the focus on close reading and textual analysis at the expense of broader contextual understanding. He urges students to read widely and deeply, to question the assumptions of the texts they encounter, and to connect their readings to the wider world.

    Chapter 8: How to Think

    Deresiewicz explores the lack of critical thinking and intellectual curiosity among students at elite universities. He argues that the focus on grades and credentials discourages students from taking risks and pursuing knowledge for its own sake. He encourages students to develop a sense of intellectual self-worth and to embrace their own unique path to knowledge and understanding.

    Chapter 9: How to Be

    In the final chapter, Deresiewicz reflects on what it means to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. He argues that elite education fails to teach students how to be themselves and develop a sense of identity and purpose. He encourages students to pursue their passions, follow their own moral compass, and build a life centered around personal values rather than societal expectations.

    Chapter 4: Quotes of Excellent Sheep book

    1. "Our system manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they're doing but with no idea why they're doing it."

    2. "Elite education has become a factory for creating obedient, successful nonentities. We are producing, at dizzying speed, highly specialized professionals, but not truly educated human beings."

    3. "The problem with teaching kids to be achievements machines is that they soon become devoted to being trained as achievements machines."

    4. "We ask our students to work harder and harder without showing them how their efforts relate to a larger purpose. We demand excellence, but offer no guidance on how to attain it."

    5. "Our elite universities don't make students knowledgable, caring, and reflective. They make them calculating, anxious, and conformist."

    6. "The best education is not a technical instruction. It's an initiation into a certain way of thinking."

    7. "Being human means taking responsibility for your own mental life."

    8. "We are so busy quantifying everything that we forget to let the inner life flower."

    9. "By focusing so much on the external metrics of success, we have lost sight of the internal ones."

    10. "We need to teach students to think for themselves, to think about what it means to live a good life, to think about what it means to be a good citizen. We need to teach them how to be excellent human beings, not just excellent workers."

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