Kirn on aptocrats


Freddie deBoer used to blog at, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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5 Responses

  1. Will says:

    Excellent post. One possible caveat: I think Kirn’s criticism of the SAT can be applied to other academic metrics like AP or IB exams, which seem to have gained currency in recent years as reliable indicators of college success. Colleges’ selection mechanisms may gradually shift away from emphasizing the SAT, but the aptocracy is rooted firmly in place.Report

  2. I especially liked the point about the alternative potentially being a “meritocracy” that in fact rewards ” whine-ocrats, people ever ready to sacrifice dignity, fair play, charity and self-respect at the altar of the Prize.” Much as I’ve expressed qualms about standardized testing and view it as one of the more insidious elements of our education system, my experience is that there’s quite a bit of truth to it.

    An example: at least once a year (well, at least before hard copy reporter books become totally obsolete) in many, probably most, law schools, you’d find that someone had torn pages out of a law book to prevent their classmates from having access to it. I can think of plenty of other examples I’ve encountered with some regularity.Report

  3. Kyle says:

    Great post, Freddie.

    But it has a central failing, in that even those critical of an institution that rewarded them have vested interests in that institution.

    Totally true, but I do think experience matters and a critique from someone who went through the full experience of Harvard might contain better insights than someone looking in from the outside.Report

  4. Barry says:

    Minor anecdote – in an article about admissions to the University of Michigan, it was mentioned that they recompute GPA’s, based on college prep courses only, for most applicants. This eliminated the ‘fluff’ courses. Then, they normalized the grades based on the school’s difficulty level.

    That’s a lot of work, and implied that SAT’s were not trusted.Report