If Rebecca Segall-Wallace is right, lots of otherwise fortunate New York City youngsters are wondering, "Who is John Galt?" Segall-Wallace writes in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that some of the Big Apple's toniest private schools, while happy to compete ferociously in athletics, disavow "thought competition" as treacherous and refuse to support students who want to engage in it. Essay contests? Out of the question. Geography bees? Fuggedaboudit. "We don't want kids to compete individually, put themselves in vulnerable positions as individuals," one administrator explains. Of course, such good intentions will inevitably backfire in the real world. Talented students shielded from expressing their skills may feel undervalued by their teachers and administrators. And the focus on self-esteem, on rewarding "participation" rather than prowess, does nothing to prepare youngsters for a rough-and-tumble society where so-called thought competition is a fact of life and the occasional stumble or failure is unavoidable. Time for a field trip downtown, kids, perhaps to Goldman Sachs.
"In Praise of 'Thought Competition'," by Rebecca Segall-Wallace, Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2007