Opinion | Pop Culture

When Childhood Has Become a Race

Goodbye busy summer, hello busy school year: What have we lost in the rush?
When Childhood Has Become a Race
Image: emmandevin / Flickr

In a July article for The New Republic, William Deresiewicz admonished parents to abandon Ivy League ambitions for their children. Having spent 24 years at Columbia and Yale, he surmises that students at our most elite universities have lost their sense of purpose.

These high-achieving students may be “winners in the race we have made of childhood.” They may have mastered “a double major, a sport, a musical instrument, a couple of foreign languages, service work in distant corners of the globe, [and] a few hobbies thrown in for good measure.” But if they are great at what they’re doing, they have no idea why they’re doing it.

Joshua Rothman, in a response published in The New Yorker, draws a different conclusion about the apparent soullessness of today’s best and brightest. He concludes that Deresiewicz mistakenly ascribes “to his students, as personal failings, the problems of the age in which they live.”

According to Rothman, ...

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