Smart kids are mean

That seems to be the premise of this Washington Post op-ed by a first-year Yale Law School student (and Princeton grad) about high achievers at America's elite universities.

I'm saying that sometimes some of these students will denounce world hunger but be unfriendly to the homeless. They will debate environmental policy but never offer to take out the trash. They will believe vehemently in many causes but roll their eyes when reminded to be humble, to be generous and to "do what is right."

Never mind the vacuousness of the author's writing. (What does it mean to be "unfriendly" to the homeless? Maybe she's referring to Liam, who once put some change in a beggar's coffee cup only to discover that it still had coffee in it.)

What's more interesting is that the Post--a redoubt of Ivy League grads with Ivy League guilt, surely--would choose to publish such silliness. It's not really too surprising; America has a long history of bigotry against the best and brightest; this piece just fits the narrative. And its hardly alone. On the pages of Education Week, "mulitiple intelligences" guru Howard Gardner argues that affluent, high-achieving suburban kids are ethically deficient. Maybe so, but isn't that the case for inner-city and rural students too? (He doesn't seem to think so.)

Some cultures celebrate their highest achievers. We could learn something from them.

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