25 August 2008

Update on "The disadvantages of an elite education"

Previously I composed a personal response to William Deresiewicz's piece on "The disadvantages of an elite education." In addition to my post, I also wrote directly to Dr. Deresiewicz. (I call him doctor and not professor, because he's no longer with Yale.)

Here is the text of my email sent on 29 July 2008.
Dear Dr. Deresiewicz,

I'm currently a [university name] physics graduate student and I read your essay "The Disadvantages of an Elitist Education" with great interest.

For those of us who don't want to turn into elitist zombies, what do you suggest? Your essay discusses the problems of an elitist upbringing with incredible thoroughness, but you don't propose any solutions.

Travel? Read great literature? Go camping, Thoreau-style? Take up hobbies that bring us into contact with non-elitists? Protest? (hopefully, not with GESO)


Note: GESO is a Yale graduate student union which is infamous for conducting pointless protests against supposed mistreatment of Yale graduate students.

Here is Dr. Deresiewicz's response dated 2 August 2008. [He tried to respond by email, but it didn't work (?), so he sent a letter to my department mailbox!]
Dear [name],

My e-mail kept getting bounced back, so I'm sending this the old-fashioned way.

I'm glad you found my piece interesting. Your question is not easily answered. Graduate school, especially, can feel like a little bubble, and I think you need to make an effort to get outside it, maintain social and intellectual interests that go beyond your specialization. Your proposed answers are actually not bad. Obviously, knowing there's a problem and keeping your mind open are already the beginning of a solution. But it's a long-term project. I wish I could be more helpful, but I think everyone needs to find their own answer.


Bill Deresiewicz

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