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失当的美国精英教育被遗忘的荒地

作者:未知 来源:未知 2014-10-06 我要评论( )

失当的美国精英教育

被遗忘的荒地

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.

德雷谢维奇提出了一个有关如何从青春期步入成年的观点。他写道,每个人生来都有一副头脑,但只有通过内省、观察,把理智与情感结合起来,从经验中探寻意义,找到一个总体性的目标,才能形成独特和个性化的自我。

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.

他说,这个过程通常开始于大学时期,这是人生中的一段自由时光,既没有家庭负担,也没有事业上的牵绊。在这段时间,年轻人可以不顾后果、无拘无束地接触他人,并向他们学习。

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.

德雷谢维奇称,在如今的精英学府,多数学生并没有过这种经历。他说,大学已经被商业精神同化。它非但没有成为人生的自由时段,却变成了加速阶段。学生们忙着跨过履历竞赛的一个个障碍,没时间思考自己真正想要什么。他们是如此疯狂地尝试着一切,却错过了能改变人生的际遇。他们唯恐失去任何选项。他们被反复灌输的,是对名望的渴望,以及对从事可能让自己的地位岌岌可危的事情的恐惧。

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

这个体系迫使他们变得优秀,只不过是优秀的绵羊。

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.

平克的意思是,大学的使命是认知上的。年轻人应该知道如何清楚地写作和用数据进行推理。他们应该习得具体的知识:地球的历史、人体的工作原理、不同文化之间的差异,等等。

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.”

选拔学生进入精英学府的过程,并不是对申请者的灵魂的神秘审视,平克接着说。对学生的选拔应该基于标准化考试的分数,也就是SAT的成绩。如果大学录取了分数最高的孩子,企业录用了分数最高的应聘者,平克写道,“当前制度的许多反常之处就会迅速消失。”

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).

因此,我们面对的是大学教育的三个不同目的:商业目的(为职业发展做准备)、平克所说的认知目的(获得信息并学会思考),以及德雷谢维奇的道德目的(塑造完整的自我)。

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.

如今,精英学院的人们有同样的道德追求。所有人都知道精英管理的系统已经失去了理智。所有人——管理者、招生负责人、教职员工和学生们——都知道,履历竞赛的压力已经失控。

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.

但当权者已经不再认为自己必须说清楚他们认为道德、情感和精神的成长是如何发生的,他们只会说一些所有人都同意的平淡无奇的话语,或者偶尔模糊地提起社区服务的例子。他们这样做的理由很简单。他们不认为这是他们的职责,或者,正如平克所说,他们不认为自己知道答案。

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.

结果就是,精英学府十分擅长完成它们的商业使命。它们也相当擅长发展认知上的使命。至于德雷谢维奇提到的那种成长,所有人都只能靠自己。一名招生负责人自己的标准可能稍稍倾向于古怪的学生,而不是拥有完美简历的人。一名学生可能私下里经过一番挣扎后,选择了一份夏令营的工作,而不是情感上空洞无物但能够为简历增色的实习。但这些挣扎都是非正式的、孤立的、不太说得清的。

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.

在我看来,德雷谢维奇严重高估了精英学府道德衰退的程度。不过,他至少提醒了我们,道德教育是怎样的。现在来看,那基本上是一块被遗弃的荒地。

重点词汇学习:

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

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