Book review on “Educating Elites”


校园英语·上旬 2018年2期

Li Xiaoxiao

【Abstract】As the public always keep an eye on the equality of education and involving more poor people in qualified education. Id like to explore the opposite side: How do the upper class utilize and view their education?

【Key words】Elite education; normal education; social and family influence; college admission

【作者簡介】Li Xiaoxiao,Shaanxi Xueqian Normal University

What makes me choose this book is because of my curiosity of how do elite schools cultivate so many outstanding students who could be able to attend those top universities and find their position to release their power and wisdom. After viewing the main content of the book, I found that “boarding school” has been indicated many times, which is described as the icon of elite schools. Interestingly I received my secondary education in a boarding school, where most of students came from middle or upper class. Thus my personal experience also pushes me to explore more in this topic.

Generally speaking, there are some similarities and differences between educating elites and normal education. Both types of education require teachers to instruct students based on their individual situations. However what makes educating elites different are the complex social and family influence and the advantages which their privilege has brought to them. As the author said in the first chapter that the reason we have to “study up” is because “elite education has remained virtually unmapped terrain and remains largely outside the public and scholarly gaze” (Howard and Fernandez 2). As an international student and a student who used to living in the elite boarding school for 6 years, I feel that students of higher intelligence or wealthy family pose many problems to parents, teachers, and society, some of which are even hard to explain. Therefore it is very crucial to bring our attention to this field.

One thing I feel interested is the curriculum in the elite school. With the solid financial foundation and the unique goal of elite schools, the curriculum seems more adaptable and variable to students. However in elite schools in China, we dont have so many interesting and special courses because of the pressure from the same standard college admission test. In other words, the lower grade it is, the more choices it will be. Nevertheless, as the grade is growing up, those special courses and interesting activities are almost faded away from the high school period, especially those perspective college students. Im very happy to see that nowadays China is opening more choices for students to enter college, rather than the only national college exam. Therefore elite schools could obtain more room to cultivate students and reveal their values.

Another question that I mentioned in the beginning of this book review is why there exists such a high top college admission rate for elite school students? That is to say, elite schools could provide students with ample opportunities to get access to various settings and contextualized environment to explore each students potential talent and refine their inferior part. Im very impressive about the author said that if we can discover each students merit in each field, and assist them to get above a basic bar, then all of your students are “top” students. And they will find their position in the process of applying college and majors.

Besides all the advantages discussed above, many tough problems also hit our attention. One of the heated questions is how do the elite students view the advantages that their privilege has brought to them. I think two reasons should be account for this phenomenon; the first one is that these students are currently far from the competitiveness produced by the society; therefore they will regard their attainment as kind of spiritual and cognitive power rather than economic foundation. The second one is that parents who have experienced various painstaking to get great achievement do not want to exert too much conscious of productive sense to their children when they are still in school, and they set their children in a path where only effort and right value play the important role.

In conclusion, this book not only unveils the mystery of elite school where not everyone would be able to enroll, but also enhance me the ability to know how to do a self study research. This book also brings up many social problems related to educating elites, which call for the whole society to pay attention to. Even though there still left some problems and limitations for this topic, such as limit range of research recourses. I still believe more professional educators will keep exploring in order to let every child receive the best education.


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