Friday, June 10, 2005

Head of the Class, But Not Ahead in Life

Interesting article on valedictorians in a recent issue of the New Yorker:
""Few of the valedictorians seem destined for intellectual eminence or for creative work outside of familiar career paths... Dedicated to the well-rounded ideal-- to be a valedictorian, after all, you must excel in classes that don't interest you or are poorly taught-- the valedictorians had 'used their strong work ethic to pursue multiple academic and extracurricular interest. None was obsessed with a single talent area to which he or she subordinated school and social involvement.

This marks a difference, Arnold said, from what we know about many eminent achievers, who tend to evince an early passion for a particular field...

Valedictorians, by contrast, conformed to the expectations of school and carefully chose careers that were likely to be socially and financially secure: "As a rule, valedictorians relegated their early interests to hobbies, second majors, or regretted dead ends. The serious athletes among the valedictorians never pursued sports occupations. Most of the high school musicians hung up their instruments during college."

Are valedictorians doomed to a life of comfortable mediocrity??