Too Much Information   /   Spring 2015   /    Book Reviews

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz

Chad Wellmon

William Deresiewicz, a former professor of English at Yale University, is not a fan of American elite education. He says that it “manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose.” The entire system of elite education, he argues, reproduces an American upper-middle class and its aspirations, distorted values, and sense of entitlement. Harvard, Princeton, and Yale no longer form purposeful, reflective young adults; they reproduce aimless, credential-craven zombies––the final products of a cultural system whose only end is the relentless pursuit of prestige and perfection. The path from preschool to Princeton is strewn with these lifeless overachievers who live off the validation of others.

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