作者:未知 来源:未知 2014-10-06 我要评论( )



This summer, The New Republic published the most read article in that magazine’s history. It was an essay by William Deresiewicz, drawn from his new book, “Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life.”

今年夏天,《新共和》(The New Republic)发表了创刊以来的最热门文章。此文节选自威廉·德雷谢维奇(William Deresiewicz)的新书:《优秀的绵羊:失当的美国精英教育以及如何拥有富于意义的人生》(Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life)。

Deresiewicz offers a vision of what it takes to move from adolescence to adulthood. Everyone is born with a mind, he writes, but it is only through introspection, observation, connecting the head and the heart, making meaning of experience and finding an organizing purpose that you build a unique individual self.


This process, he argues, often begins in college, the interval of freedom when a person is away from both family and career. During that interval, the young person can throw himself with reckless abandon at other people and learn from them.


Through this process, a student is able, in the words of Mark Lilla, a professor at Columbia, to discover “just what it is that’s worth wanting.”

用哥伦比亚大学教授马克·里尔拉(Mark Lilla)的话说,通过这个过程,一名学生能够发现,“什么才是值得追求的”。

Deresiewicz argues that most students do not get to experience this in elite colleges today. Universities, he says, have been absorbed into the commercial ethos. Instead of being intervals of freedom, they are breeding grounds for advancement. Students are too busy jumping through the next hurdle in the résumé race to figure out what they really want. They are too frantic tasting everything on the smorgasbord to have life-altering encounters. They have a terror of closing off options. They have been inculcated with a lust for prestige and a fear of doing things that may put their status at risk.


The system pressures them to be excellent, but excellent sheep.


Steven Pinker, the great psychology professor at Harvard, wrote the most comprehensive response to Deresiewicz. “Perhaps I am emblematic of everything that is wrong with elite American education, but I have no idea how to get my students to build a self or become a soul. It isn’t taught in graduate school, and in the hundreds of faculty appointments and promotions I have participated in, we’ve never evaluated a candidate on how well he or she could accomplish it.”

哈佛大学(Harvard)杰出的心理学教授史蒂文·平克(Steven Pinker)在文章中对德雷谢维奇的观点做了最全面的回应。“也许我代表了美国精英教育错误的一面,但我完全不知道如何让学生建立起自我,也不知道如何让他们成为拥有高尚情操的人。研究生院不会教学生做这些事,在我所参与的数百个教职岗位的任命和提拔决定中,我们也从来不会评估一个候选人在这一点上做的好不好。”

Pinker suggests the university’s job is cognitive. Young people should know how to write clearly and reason statistically. They should acquire specific knowledge: the history of the planet, how the body works, how cultures differ, etc.


The way to select students into the elite colleges is not through any mysterious peering into applicants’ souls, Pinker continues. Students should be selected on the basis of standardized test scores:the S.A.T.’s. If colleges admitted kids with the highest scores and companies hired applicants with the highest scores, Pinker writes, “many of the perversities of the current system would vanish overnight.”


What we have before us then, is three distinct purposes for a university: the commercial purpose (starting a career), Pinker’s cognitive purpose (acquiring information and learning how to think) and Deresiewicz’s moral purpose (building an integrated self).


Over a century ago, most university administrators and faculty members would have said the moral purpose is the most important. As Mary Woolley, the president of Mount Holyoke, put it, “Character is the main object of education.” The most prominent Harvard psychology professor then, William James, wrote essays on the structure of the morally significant life. Such a life, he wrote, is organized around a self-imposed, heroic ideal and is pursued through endurance, courage, fidelity and struggle.

一个多世纪前,多数大学管理者和教职员工会说,道德目的最重要。正如曼荷莲学院(Mount Holyoke College)院长玛丽·伍利(Mary Woolley)所说,“教育的主要对象是品格。”当时非常著名的哈佛大学心理学教授威廉·詹姆斯(William James)在多篇文章中谈论了在道德方面有所建树的人生的构成。他写道,这样的一生,是围绕着一个自愿承担的崇高理想建立起来的,是通过耐力、勇气、忠诚和奋斗实现的。

Today, people at these elite institutions have the same moral aspirations. Everybody knows the meritocratic system has lost its mind. Everybody — administrators, admissions officers, faculty and students — knows that the pressures of the résumé race are out of control.


But people in authority no longer feel compelled to define how they think moral, emotional and spiritual growth happens, beyond a few pablum words that no one could disagree with and a few vague references to community service. The reason they don’t is simple. They don’t think it’s their place, or, as Pinker put it, they don’t think they know.


The result is that the elite universities are strong at delivering their commercial mission. They are pretty strong in developing their cognitive mission. But when it comes to the sort of growth Deresiewicz is talking about, everyone is on their own. An admissions officer might bias her criteria slightly away from the Résumé God and toward the quirky kid. A student may privately wrestle with taking a summer camp job instead of an emotionally vacuous but résumé-padding internship. But these struggles are informal, isolated and semi-articulate.


I’d say Deresiewicz significantly overstates the amount of moral decay at elite universities. But at least he reminds us what a moral education looks like. That is largely abandoned ground.



breed [bri:d]
vi. 繁殖;饲养;产生vt. 繁殖;饲养;养育,教育;引起n. [生物] 品种;种类,类型

terror ['terə]
n. 恐怖;恐怖行动;恐怖时期;可怕的人

promotion [prəu'məuʃən]
n. 提升,[劳经] 晋升;推销,促销;促进;发扬,振兴

candidate ['kændideit, -dət]
n. 候选人,候补者;应试者

impose [im'pəuz]
vi. 利用;欺骗;施加影响vt. 强加;征税;以…欺骗

lust [lʌst]
n. 性欲;强烈的欲望vi. 贪求,渴望

prestige [pre'sti:ʒ, -'sti:dʒ, 'prestidʒ]
n. 威望,声望;声誉

fidelity [fi'deliti]
n. 保真度;忠诚;精确;尽责

psychology [psai'kɔlədʒi]
n. 心理学;心理状态

isolate ['aisəleit, -lit]
vt. 使隔离;使孤立;使绝缘n. [生物] 隔离种群vi. 隔离;孤立adj. 隔离的;孤立的