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Sunday, June 26, 2005



Although I experienced the "push" phenomenon as a kid growing up (my mother still regrets that I took that no-AP-credit psychology class in high school and lost out on being valedictorian, but whatever) I feel Brown University saved me from all that -- once I was accepted, of course.

I didn't declare a major for two years -- no need to start early.
I took things Satisfactory/No Credit -- no need to obsess about grades.
There was no emphasis on pre-med, pre-law, or pre-business -- the emphasis was on learning and exploration, not on cutthroat competition.

I wish high school were like that.

Lisa Williams

I think it's just economics.

Since my parents' time, a much bigger percentage of people in America routinely experience huge economic risks (of the lose your job/lose your house) type. They're told that the only way to get security is by getting more education. Education costs go up a zillion percent. Worse, we're starting to be a "winner take all" society -- only those who get the top slots get security, the rest get a lifetime of insecurity. So the decisions about education are even more high risk. This encourages cheating and "teaching to the test" and even in some cases an attitude that people who don't are not honest but just chumps. (And that attitude and approach is much more widespread than education; that's exactly what Enron and Halliburton are about, too. You see it all over; it's a predictable consequence of winner-take-all environments).


This is similar to something that goes in India, especially South India. There is enormous pressure on a student to do well in high school, so he can become an engineer or Doctor. Anything less is considered a failure by the parents.

It is routine to see students going to after school programs or tuition centres as we called them to get an edge. These tuition centres have a huge market as every student goes there. It does not matter if you are the first one or the last one in class.

I do not know about the USA, but in India we have students who work bloody hard the last two years of high school, working towards being an engineer or Doctor. One would be hard pressed to find students of this age have a social life that did not involve school.

A very informative post. Thanks

Ryan Malone

In most Asian countries the educational system pushes the kids really hard, with many kids having after-school tuition and not finishing until 7pm at night. The educational system is much more relaxed in Britain, and even the private school I go to despite pushing us harder than the rest, is still not as hard as countries such as China. Considering we have just as many graduates as these countries, if not more, it raises the question if this is really necessary.

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