EppsNet Archive: Academia

Big Fishes in Small Ponds

14 Mar 2015 /

Big fish, small pond

A colleague and I are discussing an article about too many kids quitting science because they don’t think they’re smart, in which Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford, says, among other things:

Being a good parent has become synonymous with giving out ability praise. Parents still think this is the greatest gift they can give to their children, and as a child gets more and more insecure, they give more and more of it. And, by the way, a lot of employers and coaches have said, “My employees cannot get through the day without accolades and validation.” Even professional coaches have said they cannot give feedback without these people feeling that they’ve crushed them. We’ve created several generations now of very fragile individuals because they’ve been praised and hyped. And feel that anything but praise is devastating.

My colleague mentions Malcolm Gladwell‘s book David and Goliath, in which Gladwell claims that while the worst STEM students at, say, Harvard may be as smart as the top third at a lower ranked college, the Harvard kids feel stupid and unsuccessful because they compare themselves to their Harvard peers. Gladwell then goes on to recommend attending non-elite institutions — to be a big fish in a small pond — in order not to have your dreams and confidence crushed.

“Why don’t kids just forget about four-year institutions completely and attend their local community college?” I reply. “They can test their mettle against classmates with no academic qualifications whatsoever. That should provide a much-needed confidence boost.”


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Dr. Maya Angelou

4 Aug 2014 /
Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou received quite a few honorary doctoral degrees in her lifetime and elected for some reason to refer to herself as Dr. Maya Angelou, despite not having an earned doctoral degree and despite, to my knowledge, never attending college at all.

Many famous people are given honorary doctorates by universities but thank god they don’t all go around referring to themselves as, say, Dr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dr. Mike Tyson, Dr. Glenn Beck, etc., etc., etc.

I’m also sick unto death of people who quote insipid thoughts from Maya Angelou as profundities, particularly if they refer to her as Dr. Maya Angelou when doing so.