Is America becoming increasingly ignorant?

LoisL,Ok, when I wrote about “leadership" being a buzz word I hadn’t yet read the Deresiewicz article. i was responding your use of the word in your sentence: “His book was an indictment of systemic failure to produce great leadership qualities." My post was not a good response to your point. It’s just that the word “leadership" is bandied about so much that I overreacted to the word itself. I wasn’t focusing your actual point. I did read the article, which is very good, and I think he may be right. I did not attend an elite school or university, so I can analyze it only as an outsider. My own mediocre education did not teach much in the way of leadership skills at all. Lois
I agree with you completely. And, as I understand it, Deresiewicz proposes that this systemic failure is also present in the "Ivy League" schools, in spite of their educational excellence. The difference is the exclusive networking opportunities in that elite social environment, which obviously is a great advantage, but does not require Humanistic commitment and/or leadership qualities. Of course there are notable exceptions who use their elite education for worthy causes. And I am sure there are many lesser known colleges and universities which teach humanist values (social sciences) in addition to other curricula. But these schools are not usually preferred by the very wealthy and their degrees carry less weight in the upper class circles.

Here is Steven Pinker’s response to the Deresiewics article.

Here is Steven Pinker's response to the Deresiewics article.
If we compare both articles, it is clear that neither is satisfied with the current state of affairs. Their difference lies in that Deresiewicz is perhaps too critical, while Pinker is rightfully defending the merits of the quality of information available at these schools, which Deriesewicz tacitly admits in his article. However, they both agree that these types of exclusive schools could stand improvement in several areas.
Pinker, Still, he’s right that the current system is harmful and unfair. What he could have said is that elite universities are nothing close to being meritocracies. We know that because they don’t admit most of their students on the basis of academic aptitude. And perhaps that’s what we should try next.
So, we do seem to have a partial consensus by two learned minds who are intimately acquainted with these educational systems.

In addition, the actual cost of attending these schools may be prohibitive for the majority of the population, unless blessed with a scholarship.

Below is the 2011-2012 breakdown for the cost increases at the Ivy League schools accounting for tuition, room, board, and fees: Columbia University – TBD – 2010-2011 cost was $56,684 Dartmouth College – 5.9% increase – $55,365 Cornell University – 4.5% increase – $54,645 University of Pennsylvania – 3.9% increase – $53,976 Brown University – 3.5% increase – $53,136 Yale University – 5.8% increase – $52,700 Harvard University – 3.8% increase – $52,650 Princeton University – 1% increase – $49,069
Thus a four year course will launch the student into the world carrying an interest bearing 200,000+ debt load which must also be considered and which in itself creates an unfair advantage to the very rich. I recently heard that government loans for tuition fees generated 30,000,000 dollars in interest over a 10 year period (if I recall correctly). I have always assumed that government cannot make a profit on the services it provides. I find it curious that this is a legal practice which obviously stifles a fundamental right to "earn" a degree and not "buy" your way through.