Excellent Sheep Summary – A Metaphor

Author: William Deresiewicz

Excellent Sheep (2014) is a book of social disapproval on the role played by elite colleges in the American community. In this book, William Deresiewicz offers a scathing critique of the American education system and the culture of elite achievement that has arisen in its wake. He argues that our schools are churning out “excellent sheep” – students who are high-achieving but lack creativity, originality, and critical thinking skills. Deresiewicz’s book is both a diagnosis of the problems with the American education system and a call to action.
excellent sheep summary
Source: amazon.com

Detailed Summary of Excellent Sheep

Deresiewicz traces the origins of this “sheep” mentality to the Ivy League schools, which he attended and taught at for many years. He argues that the pressure to succeed in these schools is so intense that it stifles creativity and encourages students to conform to the narrow standards of what is considered “successful.”

As a result, we are producing a generation of students who are excellent at following instructions but cannot think for themselves or solve problems in innovative ways.

Deresiewicz offers several solutions for reversing this trend, including emphasizing the arts and humanities in education and focusing less on standardized testing and rankings. He also calls for a more diverse student body at our elite schools.

Moreover, he calls for a culture that values creativity and risk-taking over conformity and success. He also aims at the college admissions process, arguing that it is a rigged system that favors the wealthy and privileged. Furthermore, he argues that the admissions process should be reformed to focus on merit rather than wealth.

Whether you agree with deresiewicz’s assessment of the problem or not, the Excellent Sheep summary is an important and thought-provoking read for anyone interested in education and the American culture in achievement.

Excellent Sheep Summary Key Points

The author, William Deresiewicz, advocates for a more holistic and individualized approach to education. This book offers an important counterpoint to the pressure-cooker atmosphere of today’s Ivy League schools. The author provides some insightful suggestions for how we can improve it. Here, we are going to discuss some of the important key points in the Excellent Sheep summary.

You may also like to read The Culture Code Summary.

Many elite graduates end up in Finance because they lack direction and feel lost

The pressure to succeed is immense, and many young people feel like they need to take the safest route possible. That’s why so many end up in finance or consulting. They don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Hence, they go into fields where they can make a lot of money and have some stability.

This is often because they have been told their entire lives that they can do anything they set their mind to. So they feel like they have to figure out what that is. What usually ends up happening is that these graduates take the first job that comes their way, which is often in financing or consulting.

There are a few reasons for this. First, these industries are known for being able to pay a lot of money. Second, they don’t require much experience or qualifications. And third, they offer a lot of flexibility and opportunity for growth.

However, many people end up hating these jobs because they’re not doing what they want with their lives. They’re just working to make money and have no real passion or purpose. Whatever the reasons may be, it’s clear that something has changed in how college graduates view their prospects.

Gone are the days when most people had a specific plan for their life after graduation. Now, it seems like many are just looking for a job to help them pay the bills.

The most prestigious college institutions are more concerned with making money

The goal of education should be to create knowledgeable and well-rounded individuals, not to produce employees. However, many colleges have forgotten this basic purpose. They are more concerned with making money and ensuring their survival than providing quality education.

This is why so many college graduates are unprepared for the real world. They’ve been taught to jump through hoops, please their superiors, and not think for themselves. Instead, it is creating a generation of people who are good at taking tests and following orders but who lack critical thinking skills.

This means that professors are rewarded not for teaching students or mentoring them but for generating research. The most productive scholars get the best jobs and earn the most money, while those who focus on teaching are paid less and often relegated to low-status positions.

As a result, many of the smartest people in each generation are never exposed to the ideas and perspectives that college is supposed to offer. They never learn to think critically about important issues or engage in thoughtful debates with their peers.

Instead, they specialize in a narrow field of study and learn to churn out research papers that nobody reads. So while our most prestigious colleges may be excellent at generating revenue, they’re falling short when it comes to providing an education.

College experience should be about more than just Getting a Degree

College should be a time of self-discovery and learning to think critically. We need to return to the roots of what college should be. It is a time to explore new ideas, question old ones, and learn how to think for yourself. College should challenge you and make you question everything you thought you knew.

It is a time to grow up and figure out who you are and what you believe in. Undoubtedly, college today is very different than it was a few decades ago. The cost of tuition has skyrocketed, and the pressure to succeed has never been higher.

But despite all of these changes, one thing remains the same: college is still an amazing time for self-discovery and learning. Today, college has become a time when students focus on getting good grades and preparing for their careers.

Although there is nothing wrong with these goals, they have caused the college to lose some of its original purposes. College should be a time for students to explore different subjects and ideas without worrying about how it will affect their future.

This would allow students to learn more about themselves and the world around them. It would also encourage them to think critically, something that is essential in today’s society. If we can return the college to its original purpose, it will benefit both current and future students.

Excellent Sheep Review

While I don’t agree with everything Deresiewicz says, I think he makes some excellent points about the need for reform in our education system, which we have discussed in the Excellent Sheep summary. For too long, we have focused on standardized test scores and grade point averages rather than developing critical thinking skills and encouraging creativity. 

It’s time for us to rethink the way we educate our children. We need to give them the tools they need to succeed in an ever-changing world rather than simply preparing them for a life of conformity and mediocrity.

To Whom do we Recommend the Excellent Sheep Summary?

  • Those who are interested in a critical analysis of the American education system.
  • Anyone who wants to examine how the education system has changed.
  • Anyone who is struggling with the pressure of academic success.

About The Author

William Deresiewicz is an American writer and literary critic. He is the author of A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Matter (2011) and Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life (2014).

He has also published essays and reviews in The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, and other publications.