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Excellent Sheep

Excellent Sheep

The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

  • bestseller
A groundbreaking manifesto for people searching for the kind of insight on leading, thinking, and living that elite schools should be—but aren’t—providing.

As a professor at Yale, Bill Deresiewicz saw something that troubled him deeply. His students, some of the nation’s brightest minds, were adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think critically and creatively, and how to find a sense of purpose.

Excellent Sheep takes a sharp look at the high-pressure conveyor belt that begins with parents and counselors who demand perfect grades and culminates in the skewed applications Deresiewicz saw firsthand as a member of Yale’s admissions committee. As schools shift focus from the humanities to "practical" subjects like economics and computer science, students are losing the ability to think in innovative ways. Deresiewicz explains how college should be a time for self-discovery, when students can establish their own values and measures of success, so they can forge their own path. He addresses parents, students, educators, and anyone who's interested in the direction of American society, featuring quotes from real students and graduates he has corresponded with over the years, candidly exposing where the system is broken and clearly presenting solutions.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476702711 | 
  • August 2014
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Breaking out of the Educated Flock

Yale professor, Bill Deresiewicz's groundbreaking manifesto for people searching for the kind of insight on leading, thinking, and living that elite schools should be (but aren’t) providing.

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Read an Excerpt

Excellent Sheep Introduction
This book, in many ways, is a letter to my twenty-year-old self. It talks about the kinds of things I wish that someone had encouraged me to think about when I was going to college—such as what the point of college might be in the first place.

I was like so many kids today (and so many kids back then). I went off to college like a sleepwalker, like a zombie. College was a blank. College was the “next thing.” You went to college, you studied something, and afterward you went on to the next next... see more

Articles About This Book

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Posted by Sam McNerney

This morning, Wharton professor Adam Grant posted a list of book recommendations on his LinkedIn blog. "This fall," Grant writes, "there’s an unusually exciting crop of big idea and business books about human behavior, innovation and...

About the Author

William Deresiewicz
© Mary Ann Halpin Photography

William Deresiewicz

William Deresiewicz is a contributing writer for The Nation and contributing editor for The New Republic and The American Scholar. He speaks regularly on the state of education in America at schools and leadership conferences across the country to enormous interest and acclaim. An associate professor of English at Yale until 2008, he is the author of the highly acclaimed A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter. Visit BillDeresiewicz.com.

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