The Organization Kid

“A few months ago I went to Princeton University to see what the young people who are going to be running our country in a few decades are like. Faculty members gave me the names of a few dozen articulate students, and I sent them e-mails, inviting them out to lunch or dinner in small groups. I would go to sleep in my hotel room at around midnight each night, and when I awoke, my mailbox would be full of replies—sent at 1:15 a.m., 2:59 a.m., 3:23 a.m.

In our conversations I would ask the students when they got around to sleeping. One senior told me that she went to bed around two and woke up each morning at seven; she could afford that much rest because she had learned to supplement her full day of work by studying in her sleep. As she was falling asleep she would recite a math problem or a paper topic to herself; she would then sometimes dream about it, and when she woke up, the problem might be solved. I asked several students to describe their daily schedules, and their replies sounded like a session of Future Workaholics of America: crew practice at dawn, classes in the morning, resident-adviser duty, lunch, study groups, classes in the afternoon, tutoring disadvantaged kids in Trenton, a cappella practice, dinner, study, science lab, prayer session, hit the StairMaster, study a few hours more. One young man told me that he had to schedule appointment times for chatting with his friends. I mentioned this to other groups, and usually one or two people would volunteer that they did the same thing. "I just had an appointment with my best friend at seven this morning," one woman said. "Or else you lose touch."”

“People are too busy to get involved in larger issues. When I think of all that I have to keep up with, I'm relieved there are no bigger compelling causes”

“Even the biological necessities get squeezed out. I was amazed to learn how little dating goes on. Students go out in groups, and there is certainly a fair bit of partying on campus, but as one told me, "People don't have time or energy to put into real relationships." Sometimes they'll have close friendships and "friendships with privileges" (meaning with sex), but often they don't get serious until they are a few years out of college and meet again at a reunion—after their careers are on track and they can begin to spare the time.”

“He admitted that there was little discussion about intellectual matters outside class. "Most students don't like that that's the case," he told me, "but it is the case." So he and a bunch of his friends had formed a discussion group called Paidea, which meets regularly with a faculty guest to talk about such topics as millennialism, postmodernism, and Byzantine music. If discussion can be scheduled, it can be done.”

“One, a student-government officer, said, "Sometimes we feel like we're just tools for processing information.”

“That doesn't mean that these leaders-in-training are money-mad (though they are certainly career-conscious). It means they are goal-oriented. An activity—whether it is studying, hitting the treadmill, drama group, community service, or one of the student groups they found and join in great numbers—is rarely an end in itself. It is a means for self-improvement, résumé-building, and enrichment. College is just one step on the continual stairway of advancement, and they are always aware that they must get to the next step (law school, medical school, whatever) so that they can progress up the steps after that.”

“But he, like almost all the other older people I talked to, is a little disquieted by the achievement ethos and the calm acceptance of established order that prevails among elite students today. Hargadon said he had been struck by a 1966 booklet called "College Admissions and the Public Interest," written by a retired MIT admissions director named Brainerd Alden Thresher. Thresher made a distinction between students who come to campus in a "poetic" frame of mind and those who come in a "prudential" frame of mind. "Certainly more kids are entering in a prudential frame of mind," Hargadon said. "Most kids see their education as a means to an end."”

“They're not trying to buck the system; they're trying to climb it, and they are streamlined for ascent. Hence they are not a disputatious group.”

“"Undergrads somehow got this ethos that the faculty is sacrosanct," Dave Wilkinson, a professor of physics, told me. "You don't mess with the faculty. I cannot get the students to call me by my first name." Aaron Friedberg, who teaches international relations, said, "It's very rare to get a student to challenge anything or to take a position that's counter to what the professor says." Robert Wuthnow, a sociologist, lamented, "They are disconcertingly comfortable with authority. That's the most common complaint the faculty has of Princeton students. They're eager to please, eager to jump through whatever hoops the faculty puts in front of them, eager to conform."”

“Time-analysis studies done at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research provide the best picture of the trend: From 1981 to 1997 the amount of time that children aged three to twelve spent playing indoors declined by 16 percent. The amount of time spent watching TV declined by 23 percent. Meanwhile, the amount of time spent studying increased by 20 percent and the amount of time spent doing organized sports increased by 27 percent. Drive around your neighborhood. Remember all those parks that used to have open fields? They have been carved up into neatly trimmed soccer and baseball fields crowded with parents in folding chairs who are watching their kids perform. In 1981 the association U.S. Youth Soccer had 811,000 registered players. By 1998 it had nearly three million.”

“But in general they are happy with their lot. Neil Howe and William Strauss surveyed young people for their book Millennials Rising (2000); they found America's young to be generally a hardworking, cheerful, earnest, and deferential group. Howe and Strauss listed their respondents' traits, which accord pretty well with what I found at Princeton: "They're optimists ... They're cooperative team players ... They accept authority ... They're rule followers." The authors paint a picture of incredibly wholesome youths who will correct the narcissism and nihilism of their Boomer parents.”

“Responding to a 1997 Gallup survey, 96 percent of teenagers said they got along with their parents, and 82 percent described their home life as "wonderful" or "good." Roughly three out of four said they shared their parents' general values. When asked by Roper Starch Worldwide in 1998 to rank the major problems facing America today, students aged twelve to nineteen most frequently named as their top five concerns selfishness, people who don't respect law and the authorities, wrongdoing by politicians, lack of parental discipline, and courts that care too much about criminals' rights. It is impossible to imagine teenagers a few decades ago calling for stricter parental discipline and more respect for authority. In 1974 a majority of teenagers reported that they could not "comfortably approach their parents with personal matters of concern." Forty percent believed they would be "better off not living with their parents."”

“In short, at the top of the meritocratic ladder we have in America a generation of students who are extraordinarily bright, morally earnest, and incredibly industrious. They like to study and socialize in groups. They create and join organizations with great enthusiasm. They are responsible, safety-conscious, and mature. They feel no compelling need to rebel—not even a hint of one. They not only defer to authority; they admire it. "Alienation" is a word one almost never hears from them. They regard the universe as beneficent, orderly, and meaningful. At the schools and colleges where the next leadership class is being bred, one finds not angry revolutionaries, despondent slackers, or dark cynics but the Organization Kid.”

“As the University of Michigan time-analysis data show, this is a group whose members have spent the bulk of their lives in structured, adult-organized activities. They are the most honed and supervised generation in human history. If they are group-oriented, deferential to authority, and achievement-obsessed, it is because we achievement-besotted adults have trained them to be. We have devoted our prodigious energies to imposing a sort of order and responsibility on our kids' lives that we never experienced ourselves. The kids have looked upon this order and have decided that it's good.”

“Your child is the most important extra-credit arts project you will ever undertake. The Newsweek special issue provides information about the creature parents will be sculpting. It describes the cerebellum, the basal ganglia, and the motor cortex; accompanying diagrams show the locations of different brain activities. There are intimidating warnings: for example, although each baby develops trillions of synapses, about half of them have died off by adulthood. Even before birth children need stimulation and feedback if they are to build a strong web of brain connections. The pressure is on.”

“Infancy.We used to think that children were shaped by God, or by dark oedipal impulses, but as the twenty-first century dawns, we know better. We know that children are shaped by the interaction of their DNA and their environment. In the books and magazines that cater to parents, children are described neither as mysterious creatures, driven by the sort of subterranean passions with which Freud concerned himself, nor as divine innocents. Instead biology has displaced psychology and theology: there is a scientifically discernible structure to human life, and it is inscribed in our genetic code. If something goes wrong, it is because there was a genetic flaw, or because the synapses were not cultivated properly. In either case we may be able to supply a remedy.”

“At the dawn of the 21st century, we no longer have to guess about the best way to raise a child ... researchers studying cognitive development have used sophisticated imaging technology to track the constant interplay of genetics and environment. Though they still have much to learn, they have laid down the basic building blocks of a comprehensive understanding of how experiences shape growth. It turns out to be something like the way a sculptor chips away at a block of marble; you have to work with what you've got, but skill, patience and persistence make all the difference”

“Perhaps the most important event in ushering in the big-backpack era was the release of the report on April 26, 1983. Commissioned by Terrel Bell, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Education, the report decried the "rising tide of mediocrity" plaguing American schools and it caused an immediate sensation. The problem, it said, was that schools had become too loose and free-flowing. Students faced a "cafeteria style curriculum" that gave them too many choices. They were graduating from high school having spent much of their time in elective gut classes. They didn't do enough homework. They weren't given enough "rigorous examinations" and standardized tests, nor were they forced to meet stringent college-admissions requirements.

The report represented a rejection of an era that celebrated "natural" education, student-centered diversity, and spontaneity, and that cultivated creativity over discipline and nonconformity over conformity. A Nation at Risk bid farewell to all that, and said it was time to reassert authority and re-establish order. Schools needed to get back to basics.”

“During the 1960s and 1970s schools assigned less and less homework, so that by 1981 the average six-to-eight-year-old was doing only fifty-two minutes of homework a week. By 1997 the amount of homework assigned to the average child of the same age had doubled, to more than two hours a week. Meanwhile, the school day, which had shortened during the sixties and seventies, has steadily lengthened since, as has the school year. Requirements have stiffened. Before 1983 the average school district required one year of math and one year of science for high school graduation. Now the average high school calls for two years of each. The culture of schools has tightened. In the 1970s, rebelling against the rigid desks-in-a-row pedagogy of the 1950s, schools experimented with open campuses and classes without walls. Now the language of education reform has changed, and the emphasis is on testing, accountability, and order.”

“After all, as people kept reminding me, these are some of the best and brightest young people our high schools have to offer. They have woven their way through the temptations of adolescence and have benefited from all the nurturing and instruction and opportunities with which the country has provided them. They are responsible. They are generous. They are bright. They are good-natured. But they live in a country that has lost, in its frenetic seeking after happiness and success, the language of sin and character-building through combat with sin. Evil is seen as something that can be cured with better education, or therapy, or Prozac. Instead of virtue we talk about accomplishment.”

“Maybe the lives of the meritocrats are so crammed because the stakes are so small. All this ambition and aspiration is looking for new tests to ace, new clubs to be president of, new services to perform, but finding that none of these challenges is the ultimate challenge, and none of the rewards is the ultimate reward.”

“It is stunning how quickly we have moved from the idea that children should be given freedom to chart their own learning to a belief that adults have a responsibility to reshape the minds of kids whose behavior deviates from the standard. As Ken Livingston wrote in The Public Interest in 1997, "In late twentieth-century America, when it is difficult or inconvenient to change the environment, we don't think twice about changing the brain of the person who has to live in it." And as Howe and Strauss wrote in Millennials Rising, "Ironically, where young Boomers once turned to drugs to prompt impulses and think outside the box, today they turn to drugs to suppress their kids' impulses and keep their behavior inside the box ... Nowadays, Dennis the Menace would be on Ritalin, Charlie Brown on Prozac."”

“A generation ago, of course, children did not have play dates; they just went out and played. But now upscale parents fill their kids' datebooks with structured play sessions.”
Well...things are complex...more drags on attention, new urban planning and architecture, busier parents... come on.

“And they want to make sure not only that the children will be occupied at somebody's house but also that the activities undertaken will be developmentally appropriate, enriching, and safe. Parental negotiations over what is permissible during these sessions can take on a numbing complexity. Americans being Americans, surely it won't be long before such negotiations end up in a court of law.”
Note the tone.. it’s condescending al maximo honestly

“No candy will be permitted, obviously. Sneaking chocolate into the diet in the form of a chocolate-chip granola bar is dubious. Mini-carrots are usually acceptable, though they can present a choking hazard. Sugar and refined wheat should be avoided for kids with food-related hyperactivity triggers. Most organic vegetables are acceptable.

Other cultures controlled behavior by citing divine commandments. We control behavior by enacting safety rules. And we've all noticed that these rules are growing stricter and stricter by the year. Not long ago young kids bounced around in the back seat of the family sedan; nowadays any parent who allowed that would be breaking the law and would be generally viewed as close to a child abuser. Not long ago kids rode bikes unencumbered. Now a mere scooter ride requires body armor, and in many families kids aren't permitted to ride out of sight of the house.”

“Reading magazines published for camp directors, I found that my camp was still on the permissive side. A Florida law requires background checks on all camp counselors. The American Camping Association's magazine is full of safety advice: "For most drills, [tennis] balls should be fed across the net," writes Robert Gamble, the tennis director at a New Hampshire camp, in a typical piece of risk-reduction advice. "This protects the instructor should a camper lose control and overhit”

“Dead arms and Indian belly rubs filled our ample free time. Now the state's health authorities have tightened the definitions of physical abuse and sexual abuse, so noogies and wedgies and all that pounding are impermissible. Every year a psychotherapist visits the camp to brief the staff on child abuse. When I was a camper, only nonswimmers wore life preservers on the lake. Now everyone does. Then there were no fences around the beaches. Now the state mandates barriers in front of the swimming areas (although the other two miles of lakefront are still open). Now camp authorities must fill out an accident report after each injury, in case of future litigation, and the director must attend risk-management seminars in the off-season. Staff life, too, is different. Two decades ago staff parties were held every Saturday night, usually with beer. Now those are outlawed: too risky.”

“Presumably, parents in the past cared as much about their kids' safety as parents today do. But they took far fewer precautions than parents today, and exerted far fewer controls over kids' behavior. Perhaps they thought it was important that children learn to take risks in order to develop courage. Or perhaps they thought that getting into scrapes is part of childhood, and that parents have no right to let their own worries dominate their children's growth.”

“At some point in the past sophisticated parents cottoned on to the idea that rebellion and experimentation are part of the natural order of growing up, and that parents of teenagers should therefore give their kids enough freedom and space to explore and define themselves. But these new books and a shelf's worth of foundation reports now assert that kids today do not seem to want as much freedom and space as they have been granted. So the task for parents is to define boundaries for their adolescents, to offer continual guidance and discipline. Two decades ago parents were advised to withdraw from their teens' lives as those teens flew off to adulthood. Now they are advised to serve as chaperones at all-night graduation parties.”

“In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court heralded the liberationist age with its decision in the Gault case. The Court held that students have the same due-process rights as adults. That decision restricted the ways in which schools could assert paternalistic authority, but it was also a sign of the times.”

“As the legal scholar Martha Minow summarized it in an essay in From Children to Citizens (1987), the decision was part of a cultural and "legal march away from the conception of the child as a dependent person." Many high schools in the seventies and eighties adopted open-campus policies. Students had to show up for class, but beyond that they were free to come and go as they pleased; the high school was essentially turned into a college campus. The Emancipation of Minors Act, passed by the California legislature in 1982, enabled teenagers to sign contracts, own property, and keep their earnings. It transformed them into quasi adults.”
you never think too much about these factors and questions, wowow ... the origins of my free class periods ei?

“The lives of the kids in this book illustrate in subtle and not so subtle ways the need for adult presence to help them learn the new lessons of growing up. Kids need adults who bear witness to the details of their lives and count them as something. They require the watchful eyes and the community standards that provide greater stability ... The kids in the book who do best are those who have a strong interactive family and a web of relationships and activities that surround them consistently.”

“The Romantics—and the neo-Romantics of the 1960s and 1970s—thought that children were born with an innate wisdom and purity. They were natural beings, as yet uncontaminated by the soul-crushing conventions of adult society. Hence they should be left free to explore, to develop their own creative tendencies, to learn at their own pace. Now, in contrast, children are to be stimulated and honed. Parents shouldn't hesitate to impose their authority. On the contrary, it is now pretty widely believed that the killings at Columbine and similar tragedies teach us that parents have a duty to be highly involved in the lives of their kids.”

“Books about what to expect in the first year lay out achievement markers starting in the first month, and from then on childhood is one long progression of measurements, from nursery school admissions to SATs. Parents need to be coaching at their child's side.”

“Imagine being a product of this regimen—one of the kids who thrived in it, the sort who winds up at elite schools. All your life you have been pleasing your elders, performing and enjoying the hundreds of enrichment tasks that dominated your early years. You are a mentor magnet. You spent your formative years excelling in school, sports, and extracurricular activities. And you have been rewarded with a place at a wonderful university filled with smart, successful, and cheerful people like yourself. Wouldn't you be just like the students I found walking around Princeton?”

“The students are casual, but they look every bit as clean-cut as students in the early 1960s did, as if the intervening forty years of collegiate scruffiness had never happened. Almost all the men shave every day. Their hair is trim and freshly shampooed. Very few students wear tattoos or have had their bodies pierced—so far as one can see—in unapproved places. Many of the women wear skirts, or sundresses when the weather is warm. "I lived an incredibly ragged life," Kathryn Taylor, class of 1974, now an administrator in alumni affairs, told me of her college days. "It never would have dawned on me to try to look nice. They seem to be much more conscious of apparel."”

“The male students are modern, enlightened men, sensitized since the first grade to apologize for their testosterone. The women are assertive and make a show of self-confidence, especially the athletes. Members of the women's soccer team have T-shirts that read YOUNG, WILD AND READY TO SCORE. Posters advertising a weekend's races say CROSS COUNTRY! IT'S EXCITING TO WATCH SEXY WOMEN RUN!—brashness that would be socially unacceptable if the boys tried it.”

“Another, from the business-consulting firm KPMG, shows a picture of a pair of incredibly hip-looking middle-aged people staring warmly into the camera. The text reads "Now that you've made your parents proud, join KPMG and give them something to smile about." It's hard to imagine a recruiting poster of a few decades ago appealing to students' desire to make their parents happy.”

“It takes a while to realize this, because unlike their predecessors, they don't shout out their differences or declare them in political or social movements. In fact, part of what makes them novel is that they don't think they are new. They don't see themselves as a lost generation or a radical generation or a beatnik generation or even a Reaganite generation. They have relatively little generational consciousness. That's because this generation is for the most part not fighting to emancipate itself from the past. The most sophisticated people in preceding generations were formed by their struggle to break free from something. The most sophisticated people in this one aren't.”

“"On or about December 1910 human character changed," Virginia Woolf famously declared. Gone, she wrote, were the old certainties, the old manners, the deference to nineteenth-century authority. Instead human beings—at least the ones in Woolf's circle—were starting to see the world as full of chaos and discontinuity. Einstein smashed the notion of absolute time and space. Artists from Seurat to Picasso deconstructed visual perceptions. James Joyce's Ulysses scrambled the narrative order of the traditional novel. Rebels upended Victorian sexual mores. And later in the century, when the modernists were exhausted, the postmodernists came along to tell us that life is even more disordered and contingent than even Virginia Woolf could have imagined. Words are detachable from their meanings. History has no grand narratives. Everything is just shifting modes of perception, a maelstrom of change and diversity.”

“They grew up in a world in which the counterculture and the mainstream culture have merged with, and co-opted, each other. For them, it's natural that one of the top administrators at Princeton has a poster of the Beatles album Revolver framed on her office wall. It's natural that hippies work at ad agencies and found organic-ice-cream companies, and that hi-tech entrepreneurs quote Dylan and wear black jeans to work. For them, it's natural that parents should listen to Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors—just like kids”

“For them, all those categories are mushed together. "They work for Save the Children and Merrill Lynch and they don't see a contradiction," says Jeffrey Herbst, the politics professor.”

“There have been no senseless bloodbaths like World War I and Vietnam, no crushing economic depressions, no cycles of assassination and rioting to foment disillusionment. They've mostly known parental protection, prosperity, and peace.”

“During most of the twentieth century the basic ways of living were called into question, but now those fundamental debates are over, at least among the young elite. Democracy and dictatorship are no longer engaged in an epic struggle; victorious democracy is the beneficent and seemingly natural order. No more fundamental arguments pit capitalism against socialism; capitalism is so triumphant that we barely even contemplate an alternative. Radicals no longer assault the American family and the American home; we accept diverse family patterns but celebrate family and community togetherness. The militant feminists of the 1960s are mostly of a grandmotherly age now. Even theological conflicts have settled down; it's fashionable to be religious so long as one is not aggressively so.”

“The world they live in seems fundamentally just. If you work hard, behave pleasantly, explore your interests, volunteer your time, obey the codes of political correctness, and take the right pills to balance your brain chemistry, you will be rewarded with a wonderful ascent in the social hierarchy. You will get into Princeton and have all sorts of genuinely interesting experiences open to you. You will make a lot of money—but more important, you will be able to improve yourself. You will be a good friend and parent. You will be caring and conscientious. You will learn to value the really important things in life. There is a fundamental order to the universe, and it works. If you play by its rules and defer to its requirements, you will lead a pretty fantastic life.”

“Walking around Princeton, I saw the monuments to that earlier elite, and I couldn't help comparing it with the new one we are creating today. The school has buildings and developments named after some of the men who were students in that era—John Foster Dulles, James Forrestal. The old eating clubs are where the characters from F. Scott Fitzgerald's Princeton dined and drank. It is easy to imagine Professor Woodrow Wilson talking and teaching in the Neo-Gothic buildings.”

“Then they were all male, all white, almost all blue bloods. They were wasp aristocrats, not multicultural meritocrats. Today we congratulate ourselves that our code is so much more enlightened than theirs. We aren't nearly as snobbish as they were, or as anti-Semitic, or as racist, or as sexist. We aren't as closed-minded—or so we tell ourselves.”

“The old order haunts this one, and whispers that maybe something was lost as well as gained when we sacrificed all for the sake of high achievement, safety, and equal opportunity. In some of the imposing old portraits, for example, I saw a moral gravity and a sense of duty that are missing from the faces of the recent presidents, who look like those friends of your parents who encouraged you to call them by their first names—friendly, unassuming guys in tweed jackets”
Yet when students care it is virtue signalling and who tf are you to know?.

“The Princeton of that day aimed to take privileged men from their prominent families and toughen them up, teach them a sense of social obligation, based on the code of the gentleman and noblesse oblige. In short, it aimed to instill in them a sense of chivalry.”

“"You must either discover your duty or else create it and then swear allegiance to its high behests," John Hibben”

“Documents from those days reveal a much denser social fabric at Princeton, and it was in the social sphere that the really important lessons were learned. There were more customs, dances, processions, and bonfires; they created a setting in which students competed for glory, for the laurels of being known as a big man on campus. (I asked today's Princeton students who the BMOCs were, and many didn't even know what the term meant. Those who did said that the concept didn't apply to their Princeton.)”

“Students in those days passed through harrowing extracurricular challenges and ordeals. There were clubs to compete for, hazing rituals to endure, brutal combats to win. Life at Princeton was a series of tests designed to cultivate manliness and determination. Each year, for example, the freshman and sophomore classes would stage a snowball fight. The library archives contain a picture of three Princeton freshmen after one such fight. Their eyes are swollen shut, their lips are broken open, they have contusions across their cheeks and signs of broken noses and broken jaws.”

“It would be pitiful indeed if we were constrained to confess in reference to our graduates, as Homer stated of the Trojan hero,—"He came forsooth to battle in golden attire like a girl." Homer also adds that this unprepared warrior was met by Achilles, who slew him and robbed him of his wealth. We must fit men to work and to fight for our day, and to be ready when called to devote their fighting powers to that cause of righteousness which appeals to them as their particular vocation.”

“There were no bureaucratized university sports programs or athletic scholarships or professional coaching in Baker's day. The games were more like medieval tournaments, ordeals in which the young men of the governing classes could build character and cultivate manly courage. Fatalities were relatively common in collegiate football until President Theodore Roosevelt—the epitome of the upper-class manly man—tried to instill some restraint. Speaking for the age, Charles William Eliot, the president of Harvard, declared that "effeminacy and luxury are even worse evils than brutality"; sports could transform "a stooping, weak, and sickly youth into [a] well-formed robust" one.”

“After college Baker went off to Wall Street, following the Princeton herd. But he was bored at J. P. Morgan, somewhat at a loss in the everyday world of commerce. World War I solved his problem. He enlisted at once as an aviator—Sir Galahad of the air—and flew aerial combat in France. American newspapers followed his exploits, exaggerating them and declaring him an ace before he had shot down a single enemy plane (he ended up shooting down three). In war Baker found perfect happiness—the camaraderie of the pilots and the thrill of combat. His athletic skills served him well, and he was promoted to squadron commander, with 206 men and twenty to twenty-four planes under him. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and showed some disappointment when the Armistice was signed.”

“Here's an excerpt from Hibben's address to the graduating students in 1913.

You, enlightened, self-sufficient, self-governed, endowed with gifts above your fellows, the world expects you to produce as well as to consume, to add to and not to subtract from its store of good, to build up and not tear down, to ennoble and not degrade. It commands you to take your place and to fight your fight in the name of honor and of chivalry, against the powers of organized evil and of commercialized vice, against the poverty, disease, and death which follow fast in the wake of sin and ignorance, against all the innumerable forces which are working to destroy the image of God in man, and unleash the passions of the beast. There comes to you from many quarters, from many voices, the call of your kind. It is the human cry of spirits in bondage, of souls in despair, of lives debased and doomed. It is the call of man to his brother ... such is your vocation; follow the voice that calls you in the name of God and of man. The time is short, the opportunity is great; therefore, crowd the hours with the best that is in you.”

“But many of the students raised on similar exhortations—including Teddy Roosevelt and John Reed at Harvard and Hobey Baker, Allen Dulles, Adlai Stevenson, and F. Scott Fitzgerald at Princeton—seem to have absorbed some sense that life is a noble mission and a perpetual war against sin, that the choices we make have consequences not just in getting a job or a law-school admission but in some grand battle between lightness and dark.”

“Then the leaders of Princeton were quite conscious of the fact that they were cultivating an elite. They thought it was only just and proper that these well-born men be at the top of society. The task was to mold them into gentlemen. Now administrators at top-tier schools know they are educating an elite but they seem to feel guilty about the whole notion of elitism and elite status. Today's elite don't like to think of themselves as elite. So there is no self-conscious code of chivalry. Today's students do not inherit a concrete and articulated moral system—a set of ideals to instruct privileged men and women on how to live, how to see their duties, and how to call upon their highest efforts.”

“Jeffrey Herbst says. "There's a pretty self-conscious attempt not to instill character." Herbst does add that students are expected to live up to the standards that apply to academic life—no plagiarism, no cheating. But in general the job of the university is to supply the knowledge that students will need to prosper, and, at most, to provide a forum in which they can cultivate character on their own. "This university doesn't orchestrate students' lives outside the classroom," says Princeton's dean of undergraduate students, Kathleen Deignan. "We're very conservative about how we steer. They steer themselves." As the admissions officer Fred Hargadon puts it, "I don't know if we build character or remind them that they should be developing it."”

“In talking to Princeton students about character, I noticed two things. First, they're a little nervous about the subject. When I asked if Princeton builds character, they would inevitably mention the honor code against cheating, or policies to reduce drinking. When I asked about moral questions, they would often flee such talk and start discussing legislative questions. For example, at dinner one evening a young man proposed that if we could just purge the wrongs that people do to one another over the next few generations, the human race could live in perfect harmony ever after, without much need for government or laws or prisons. I asked the other eight or nine students at the table to reflect on this, but they quickly veered off toward how long it would take to bring about this perfect world. I asked specifically if human beings were perfectible in this way. Some grunted in vague assent, and one young woman—a conservative Christian who had interned for Jesse Helms the previous summer—said that she agreed with what the young man had said. Apparently the doctrine of original sin had not left much of a mark on her.”
I feel like these are epistemically bullshit claims.. get me?

“When it comes to character and virtue, these young people have been left on their own. Today's go-getter parents and today's educational institutions work frantically to cultivate neural synapses, to foster good study skills, to promote musical talents. We fly our children around the world so that they can experience different cultures. We spend huge amounts of money on safety equipment and sports coaching. We sermonize about the evils of drunk driving. We expend enormous energy guiding and regulating their lives. But when it comes to character and virtue, the most mysterious area of all, suddenly the laissez-faire ethic rules: You're on your own, Jack and Jill; go figure out what is true and just for yourselves”

“We assume that each person has to solve these questions alone (though few other societies in history have made this assumption). We assume that if adults try to offer moral instruction, it will just backfire, because our children will reject our sermonizing (though they don't seem to reject any other part of our guidance and instruction). We assume that such questions have no correct answer that can be taught. Or maybe the simple truth is that adult institutions no longer try to talk about character and virtue because they simply wouldn't know what to say. John Hibben could fill books with moral instruction, but our connections to that tradition have been snapped.”

“hard to imagine what it would be like to be a saint, but it's easy to see what it is to be a success.”

“The Princeton of today is infinitely more pleasant than the old Princeton, infinitely more just, and certainly more intellectual and curious. But still there is a sense that something is missing. Somehow, in the world of moral combat that John Hibben described, the stakes were higher, the consequences of one's decisions were more serious, the goals were nobler. In this world hardworking students achieve self-control; in that one virtuous students achieved self-mastery.”

“. "We would do our best if we could make sure our students had a dose of the Augustinian sense that there is a tragic dimension to life," he said. "That there is a sense in which we live in a vale of tears. We could make them aware of the reality of sin, by which I mean chosen evil, which cannot be cured by therapy or by science. We don't do enough to call into question the therapeutic model of evil: 'He has a problem ... He's sick.'”

“We could raise this awareness—through readings and discussions in history and philosophy and literature, by reading Plato's Gorgias, Othello, or a study of the Lincoln-Douglas debates—that the conquest of the self is part of what it means to lead a successful life. It's not enough to make a corporation succeed. It's not an external problem. It doesn't lend itself to a technical solution. Four hours spent studying in the library is not self-mastery."”

“The idea that it is possible to do wrong sitting alone in your room, even if you don't cause another person any harm, is hard, George said, for modern Americans to comprehend fully. The problem is that this idea is at the heart of understanding what it means to be virtuous.”