Thursday, October 04, 2007


Low socioeconomic class professors can experience one pleasure that is not available to their elitist counterparts -- out performing them or doing more with less. Not that all do but many do and I sense there is an underlying sense of pride when this happens. On every faculty I have served on there have been faculty members who did not have an elitist background and who ran circles around their colleagues. They overcame not only the initial prejudice in hiring but the documented biases of law reviews and a strong tendency by the elitist to discount their research. It has to be inferior, right? After all, they are not graduates of Ivy League schools.

I do not want to generalize too much here. It is not every elitist, by far, who wraps him or herself in the trappings of eliticity. On the other hand, I have heard that in actual experiments Harvard graduates mentioned that fact within, on average, 3 or 4 minutes of a new discussion. And, how many Ivy League law professors attempt to impress their classes by letting it "slip" that he or she is and Ivy League grad. My guess is that it is a high percentage.

But this is what really puzzles me. What exactly goes on at these elitist institutions? In my limited experience there appears to be no correlation between the level of elite education and the ability of a person to discuss art, music, history, or anything else. I could be wrong but, if not, is it possible they were so worried about grades that they forgot about the education itself. Or are these esteemed institutions simple selling repuation?

So you lower socioeconomic class achievers, stop feeling sorry for yourselves and feel sorry for your elitist colleagues. They can never experience of joy of doing it the hard way. Nor will they ever know if they could.


Nathan said...

Professor Harrison:
"It is not every elitist, by far, who wraps him or herself in the trappings of eliticity." Just a quick question. Isn't this by definition not an elitist? An elitist must place importance on being from the select group, i.e. graduating form harvard. If they don't advertise this then they aren't really an elitist. Just someone who graduated from Harvard.
-Nathan Perry (your pupil in section 2)

Jeff Harrison said...

Good point. Maybe there is a difference between "the elite" and "the elitist."