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The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America #2020

The Tyranny of the Meritocracy Democratizing Higher Education in America A fresh and bold argument for revamping our standards of merit and a clear blueprint for creating collaborative education models that strengthen our democracy rather than privileging individual elites

  • Title: The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America
  • Author: Lani Guinier
  • ISBN: 9780807006276
  • Page: 352
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America By Lani Guinier, A fresh and bold argument for revamping our standards of merit and a clear blueprint for creating collaborative education models that strengthen our democracy rather than privileging individual elitesStanding on the foundations of America s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy But asA fresh and bold argument for revamping our standards of merit and a clear blueprint for creating collaborative education models that strengthen our democracy rather than privileging individual elitesStanding on the foundations of America s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies Having studied and taught at schools such as Harvard University, Yale Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier has spent years examining the experiences of ethnic minorities and of women at the nation s top institutions of higher education, and here she lays bare the practices that impede the stated missions of these schools Goaded on by a contemporary culture that establishes value through ranking and sorting, universities assess applicants using the vocabulary of private, highly individualized merit As a result of private merit standards and ever increasing tuitions, our colleges and universities increasingly are failing in their mission to provide educational opportunity and to prepare students for productive and engaged citizenship To reclaim higher education as a cornerstone of democracy, Guinier argues that institutions of higher learning must focus on admitting and educating a class of students who will be critical thinkers, active citizens, and publicly spirited leaders Guinier presents a plan for considering democratic merit, a system that measures the success of higher education not by the personal qualities of the students who enter but by the work and service performed by the graduates who leave Guinier goes on to offer vivid examples of communities that have developed effective learning strategies based not on an individual s merit but on the collaborative strength of a group, learning and working together, supporting members, and evolving into powerful collectives Examples are taken from across the country and include a wide range of approaches, each innovative and effective Guinier argues for reformation, not only of the very premises of admissions practices but of the shape of higher education itself.

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    1 thought on “The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America

    1. Lani Guinier, professor of law at Harvard University, has written a persuasive argument against the prevalence of high stakes testing particularly the SAT as the primary way of evaluating and predicting student achievement Her argument, however, is not only against the inaccuracy of the testing process but of the very purpose of education in general and colleges in particular Instead of merely a means of accessing powerful and lucrative employment, Guinier focuses on the function of education a [...]

    2. Lani Guinier s new book The Tyranny of the Meritocracy will be of interest to many in the connectivist circles where I run We believe that individual knowledge is created in social contexts and through social interaction We prize collaboration skills We ve heard it all, and buy it that this is an increasingly connected age, that good jobs will involve work in teams, that globalization and demographic change will require the abilities to negotiate diversity, that the problems of the twenty first [...]

    3. This one is a puzzle to review because while it contains tons of good tidbits and ideas, it nevertheless misses the main point Here is Guinier s thesis Currently, merit is measured by an individual s test scores and grades The higher the test scores and the better the grades, the entitlements are granted to an individual by teachers, parents, administrators, other students, and even the general public But this need not be the case Instead, I ve found that what is urgent for our world and thus w [...]

    4. One of the purposes of a public education system in a democratic society is to prepare citizens to participate effectively and meaningfully in the processes that govern us A healthy democracy depends on everyone having equal opportunity to understand and shape public action When our education system produces a culture of competition instead of collaboration, or when it produces citizens who cannot work together to solve problems or incorporate diverse voices, this has important consequences for [...]

    5. This book was ok but said the same thing over and over again without really going into depth to explain it The fact that the SATs are not the best indicator of aptitude is a very solid point But Guinier did not go into any explanation as to HOW these types of standardized tests are culturally biased, or what other socioeconomic advantages are often mistaken for merit I didn t disagree with her, but often I read these books as if I were a person who totally believes in the meritocracy of the US a [...]

    6. The American school system is messed up On some level, everyone knows this We see the bad schools and the good schools We see the tracking system failing We see the mad rush to ace the SAT, hinging all your college dreams on a single okay, maybe if you retake it Saturday morning But rarely does anyone point out how deeply the issue of testocratic merit is connected to the power elite and the widening rich poor gap I think that this book explains the problem in a clear and concise way Now I m VE [...]

    7. I had wanted to read this book since it first appeared many years ago I like Ms Guinier s style of writing and think that she is a sharp intellectual While I do not agree with everything in this book I like her depth of research, citations and references, contextualization, and strength of argument As a scientist and STEM scholar with experience in several academic institutions both HBCU and PWI , some of the generalizations on how African Americans ring hollow and far too theoretical particular [...]

    8. Just okay it s interesting seeing that SAT scores are not good predictors of success in college high school GPA is better, independent of the rating of the school The rest of the book is kind of mediocre I agree with the principle our so called meritocracy is not really a meritocracy The bulk of the book is anecdotal, albeit interesting anecdotes.

    9. Lani Guinier takes a strong stand in The Tyranny of the Meritocracy against one of the sacred cows of higher education in the U.S the college admissions process That takes guts To Guinier, the current admissions process, which assesses merit largely on standardized testing a testocracy creates a feeder system that spits out graduates who are individualistic and entitled and sorely misses the greater mission of higher education to educate young minds toward civic mindedness and leadership The fir [...]

    10. The transformation of higher education in America In this book, Harvard University Law Professor Lani Guinier presents a simple argument in favor of collaborative models that strengthen higher educational systems She calls for overhaul of the standards of merit based admission policies adapted by colleges and universities The merit systems dictate the admissions practices that favor the select few mainly the economically privileged, leaving behind the underprivileged families The testocracy is a [...]

    11. Many great suggestions for the educational policies of tomorrow, but also far too many straw men, and far too tendentious Standardized testing is portrayed as wrong headed except when it s used to validate one of the pedagogical approaches the author recommends which do seem excellent College grades are likewise often judged unreliable unless they are being used to prove that some group has made great strides Things which are lauded in some parts of the book are vilified in others, without enoug [...]

    12. This was a quick read, and when I read in the acknowledgments that the book was in development for a decade, I could just imagine her editors tearing their hair out, trying to get her to finish Oh well, at least the final product is good And it is important, so that may be one reason why it is best that it be a quick read So people who think they are busy have no excuse No surprise that I like the book, take one look at that subtitle and you know I m on board Democratizing Higher Education in Am [...]

    13. read, rousing, bears greater scrutiny got through the first part with the philosophical underpinnings and the recurrent touchstone of Father John s example of mentorship of the young Clarence Thomas what went wrong there , and the contrasting example of Sonia Sotomayor s rising above the naysayers I particularly agree with, and personally had voiced as a wee undergrad but clearly not loud enough how colleges and universities have a greater obligation to turning low performing students into highe [...]

    14. This one gets five stars based on the discussion that it should bring about in education This book challenges many popular beliefs about testing and how best to teach students The author s two main theses are 1 We should scrap the SAT and other standardized tests as they are poor determinants of college success and 2 Students learn much working in groups rather than as individuals She brings evidence to support her conclusions I am not ready to jump on the bandwagon whole hog but am willing to [...]

    15. Provides a nice overview of the current research on teaching and learning across higher education Targeted at a popular audience, but we ll cited with extensive end notes The idea of testocracy and meritocracy is an interesting framework that can be a useful way to think about the topic.

    16. Great explanation of the history of the SAT and other parts of the college process, but few actionable suggestions for change.

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