Discussion Questions/Video for 5/1

For Claire, Heather, Alina, and Meghan

“You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity and in as many ways as possible that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence. You were expected to make peace with mediocrity.”

This quote comes out of A Letter to My Nephew, but also applies closely to The Disadvantages of and Elite Education, and I think it encapsulates a lot of what we have discussed in class all semester. We get these ideas and expectations of certain people in our heads and it seems so hard to be able to change opinions. Deresiewicz similarly mentions, “The first disadvantage of an elite education, as I learned in my kitchen that day, is that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you.” It’s hard to form this into a question, but how can we start to make a lasting change? What does it take to keep from having a “single story” about any one person?

This video is from a TED Talk with writer Chimamanda Adichie and is a powerful speech about the danger of having only one story or opinion of people. It is a long clip, but you can get the gist from a few minutes of listening. This is what came to mind for me when I did the reading and thought about our class as a whole this semester.