Wednesday, April 24

Lost in the Meritocracy

This is a fascinating personal account of how a boy learnt how to learn. For the first time. You will be leaving for uni next year. But that necessarily doesn't mean that you learn there son. I barely squeaked through my first degree. But it was only after my accident that I started learning. 

But do experiment in uni son. That's where you can make mistakes and not suffer too much. It's fun as well. It's the mistakes which we make which perhaps have the bigger learning potential.



Lost in the Meritocracy - Walter Kirn - The Atlantic

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January/February 2005

How I traded an education for a ticket to the ruling class

Walter Kirn Jan 1 2005, 12:00 PM ET

On the bus ride down to St. Paul to take the test that will help determine who will get ahead in life, who will stay put, and who will fall behind, two of my closest buddies seal their fates by opening pint bottles of cherry schnapps the moment we leave the high school parking lot. They hide the liquor under their varsity jackets and monitor the driver’s rearview mirror for opportune moments to duck their heads and swig. A girl sees what they’re up to, mutters, “Morons,” and goes back to shading in the tiny ovals in her Scholastic Aptitude Test review book. She dated one of the guys a few months back, but lately she’s grown serious, ambitious; I’ve heard that she hopes to practice law someday and prosecute companies that pollute the air. When she notices one of the bottles coming my way, she shoots me a look of horror.

“No, thanks,” I say.

My friends seem wounded by this—aren’t we teammates? We play baseball and football together. We go way back. In our high school class there are only fifteen boys, and every summer some of us camp out by the river and cannonball from the cliffs into the current. We talk as though we’ll be together forever, though I’ve always known better: Someday we’ll be ranked. Someday we’ll be screened and then separated. I’ve known this since my first day of kindergarten, when I raised my hand slightly faster than the other kids—and waved it around to make sure the teacher saw it.

My buddies give me another chance to drink.

“Put that away, guys. Today is a big deal for us.”

But they know this already—they just don’t like the fact.

“Come on,” one says. “A sip.”

“I’m sorry. No.”

And so I go on to college, and they don’t.

Percentile is destiny in America.

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