Dynamist Blog

Harvard Is for Wimps

On Slate, Stephen Metcalf examines the source of the controversy surrounding Larry Summers: His "crusade to stamp out the culture of self-flattery." That crusade has focused primarily on the faculty, but I suspect that the students are more routinely flattered than the professors. After all, they got into Harvard. What more could anyone possibly expect of them?

A lot of elite universities, and some not-so-elite ones, could use a good dose of Project Runway-style tough talk. If design and architecture students can routinely put up with nasty criticisms, some justified, some less so, surely Ivy Leaguers could stand the occasional B. But all the incentives for professors cut against setting high standards.

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