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Thread: Why Elites Fail

  1. #1
    Senior Member UncleFai's Avatar
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    Default Why Elites Fail

    "But the Iron Law of Meritocracy makes a different prediction: that societies ordered around the meritocratic ideal will produce inequality without the attendant mobility."

    Why Elites Fail | The Nation

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    Senior Member Sion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    What fail our elites are female IT executives.

    Last edited by Sion; 12th June 2012 at 08:03 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    it's not the concept of meritocracy that has failed, it's the application of meritocracy...

    from the article:
    "But the problem with my alma mater is that over time, the mechanisms of meritocracy have broken down. In 1995, when I was a student at Hunter, the student body was 12 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic. Not coincidentally, there was no test-prep industry for the Hunter entrance exam. Thatís no longer the case. Now, so-called cram schools like Elite Academy in Queens can charge thousands of dollars for after-school and weekend courses where sixth graders memorize vocabulary words and learn advanced math. Meanwhile, in the wealthier precincts of Manhattan, parents can hire $90-an-hour private tutors for one-on-one sessions with their children."

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    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    Quote Originally Posted by theRBK View Post
    it's not the concept of meritocracy that has failed, it's the application of meritocracy...

    from the article:
    "But the problem with my alma mater is that over time, the mechanisms of meritocracy have broken down. In 1995, when I was a student at Hunter, the student body was 12 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic. Not coincidentally, there was no test-prep industry for the Hunter entrance exam. That’s no longer the case. Now, so-called cram schools like Elite Academy in Queens can charge thousands of dollars for after-school and weekend courses where sixth graders memorize vocabulary words and learn advanced math. Meanwhile, in the wealthier precincts of Manhattan, parents can hire $90-an-hour private tutors for one-on-one sessions with their children."
    seems like the meaning of meritocracy and fairness is blurred. the main objective of meritocracy is to ensure 1) people get rewarded according to their ability and 2) to ensure the right person gets the right job/appointment. Just because some have access to elite tuition and some does not, doesn't mean that meritocracy (or its application) has failed, because at the end of the day, the person getting the job/place in university is still better than the person who did not get it.

    fairness however is a different problem, because the financially/socially disadvantaged people are stuck in a system that makes them less socially mobile.

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    Senior Member UncleFai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    Quote Originally Posted by moveslikejagger92 View Post
    seems like the meaning of meritocracy and fairness is blurred. the main objective of meritocracy is to ensure 1) people get rewarded according to their ability and 2) to ensure the right person gets the right job/appointment. Just because some have access to elite tuition and some does not, doesn't mean that meritocracy (or its application) has failed, because at the end of the day, the person getting the job/place in university is still better than the person who did not get it.

    fairness however is a different problem, because the financially/socially disadvantaged people are stuck in a system that makes them less socially mobile.
    The key question is: does meritocracy inherently leads to unfairness, hence aggravating social inequality.

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    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    Quote Originally Posted by UncleFai View Post
    The key question is: does meritocracy inherently leads to unfairness, hence aggravating social inequality.
    Inherently ? No.. Even if it is, I can't think of any better alternative.
    The problem lies in human tendency to preserve wealth.. or advantage.
    Simply put, people born in a well to do family have a head start from those who doesn't.
    I think one of the solution is to facilitate the less fortunate to access education.. healthcare, etc.. so they can have better competency in society.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    Quote Originally Posted by moveslikejagger92 View Post
    seems like the meaning of meritocracy and fairness is blurred. the main objective of meritocracy is to ensure 1) people get rewarded according to their ability and 2) to ensure the right person gets the right job/appointment. Just because some have access to elite tuition and some does not, doesn't mean that meritocracy (or its application) has failed, because at the end of the day, the person getting the job/place in university is still better than the person who did not get it.

    fairness however is a different problem, because the financially/socially disadvantaged people are stuck in a system that makes them less socially mobile.
    the problem lies with the measure of merit, and how this system of measure may be gamed... relying only on predictable standardized testing as the sole means of measuring merit allows people with means to prepare fully for such tests, memorizing or at least learning ways to tackle similar questions that are used year after year, like by going to "cram" classes and the like where learning how to take the test is the primary task rather than the actual learning of subject knowledge or knowledge adaptation... it becomes a test of who is the most prepared or willing to spend the most to get prepared rather than who is the most able... when such ways to game the system are available, naturally the privileged are in a position of advantage over the less privileged, which distorts the whole purpose of meritocracy...

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    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    Quote Originally Posted by theRBK View Post
    it's not the concept of meritocracy that has failed, it's the application of meritocracy...

    from the article:
    "But the problem with my alma mater is that over time, the mechanisms of meritocracy have broken down. In 1995, when I was a student at Hunter, the student body was 12 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic. Not coincidentally, there was no test-prep industry for the Hunter entrance exam. That’s no longer the case. Now, so-called cram schools like Elite Academy in Queens can charge thousands of dollars for after-school and weekend courses where sixth graders memorize vocabulary words and learn advanced math. Meanwhile, in the wealthier precincts of Manhattan, parents can hire $90-an-hour private tutors for one-on-one sessions with their children."
    I believe it is the concept of meritocracy or rather, a rigid application of it that is being criticized here.

    To summarize it - meritocracy lies firmly on the basis on unequal outcomes - you reward the people based on merit, and people are not equal, so there are unequal outcomes. The caveat is that everyone gets equal opportunities and this should balance out the unequal outcomes eventually since the argument goes, "If I am poor, I still get an opportunity to become rich as long as I am able".

    The article argues that the moment unequal outcomes are awarded rigidly, the balance of equal opportunities is thrown off, since there will be aids such as tuition, preparatory tests which will benefit the people who had benefited from the unequal outcomes. The takeaway for me is that there is a need to ensure that the equal opportunities remain as they are to achieve the end goals of meritocracy. Afraid the article does not really discuss how this can be done though.

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    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    Quote Originally Posted by theRBK View Post
    the problem lies with the measure of merit, and how this system of measure may be gamed... relying only on predictable standardized testing as the sole means of measuring merit allows people with means to prepare fully for such tests, memorizing or at least learning ways to tackle similar questions that are used year after year, like by going to "cram" classes and the like where learning how to take the test is the primary task rather than the actual learning of subject knowledge or knowledge adaptation... it becomes a test of who is the most prepared or willing to spend the most to get prepared rather than who is the most able... when such ways to game the system are available, naturally the privileged are in a position of advantage over the less privileged, which distorts the whole purpose of meritocracy...
    Yes, I guess that's another way of looking at it.

    Yet the current formula has always been to use some form of testing. You can't run away from it as a starter.

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  11. #11

    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    Quote Originally Posted by edutilos- View Post
    Yes, I guess that's another way of looking at it.

    Yet the current formula has always been to use some form of testing. You can't run away from it as a starter.
    not eliminate testing, but to have more open-ended test questions, like ask for analysis of data or opinion on issues... things that require not just the processing of a question and providing a model answer but asking questions that require the students to demonstrate thinking skills and maturity of thought... it's easier for some subjects than others, obviously, like in the humanities rather than in mathematics, but we should also require students to take a variety of subjects so as to broaden their minds and which would allow the system to test the students from different angles, different approaches...

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    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    Quote Originally Posted by theRBK View Post
    not eliminate testing, but to have more open-ended test questions, like ask for analysis of data or opinion on issues... things that require not just the processing of a question and providing a model answer but asking questions that require the students to demonstrate thinking skills and maturity of thought... it's easier for some subjects than others, obviously, like in the humanities rather than in mathematics, but we should also require students to take a variety of subjects so as to broaden their minds and which would allow the system to test the students from different angles, different approaches...
    I think the main problem is that you can always "game" any system, because all tests tend to have some form of guidelines. Naturally even the humanities subjects need to have some form of guide and/or syllabus to determine how well the students' thinking skills/maturity are. Modern ways of education still generally demand some form of structure - with structure, you are going to always face the same problem. Even analysis of data has "model" ways of answering, etc. For example, the General Paper subject *is* supposed to garner opinion on issues... I have known people to just memorize main points of model essays to be able to give a good argument (which wasn't theirs).

    Nowadays in Singapore we even have tests that train you to enter the Gifted Education programme... How well they work is a question of course.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Why Elites Fail

    When I reread the article. I think one of the point the author want to made is that meritocracy.. or intelligence alone will not shape the society to be a better place.

    who adapted to the new environment with the most agility and creativity, who tried out novel ways of operating and got away with them, and sometimes were the most ethically challenged, were most rewarded with influence
    Meritocracy is only the rule of the game, but the reward can vary, for most people, its money or influence. I would think ethics and morals should be embedded in both the rule and reward. If only the elites practice selflessness / altruism, the world would be a better place. We need more people like Gates and Buffet. Not Steve Jobs..
    Sadly a lot of people in this modern age has abandoned them in the name of freedom.. and/or moral relativism.

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    Senior Member UncleFai's Avatar
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    Last edited by UncleFai; 14th June 2012 at 04:33 PM.

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