January 24, 2011


Sternberg, Robert J., College Admissions for the 21st Century (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: Harvard U. Press, 2010) ("This book has suggested that the term 'bright' is used too narrowly. People with stellar academic credentials are not necessarily creative, practical, or wise. Such people often capitalize on their strengths, but if they don't manage to come to a full understanding of their weaknesses, and develop ways to direct or compensate for them, they may find they are their own worst enemies." Id. at 177. I am reminded here of a talk given several years ago. One point made is that, for aspire lawyers-to-be, law school is an opportunity for them to address (and correct) their weaknesses. Better to identify and address weaknesses in law school than to have them emerge in law practice. The message was a dead letter. "Life itself is about adapting to new roles. Young people who can think creatively, analytically, practically, and wisely will be ready for not only the formative experience of their adult lives, whether on the job or as they build their own families or other communities. Colleges should select students on the basis of how well they have developed these skills, because these are the students who are most likely to succeed after graduation." "For over a hundred years, the way we have admitted students to college has been based on models of human beings that are, at best, incomplete. These models have emphasized, at different points, socioeconomic status, memory-based and analytical abilities, the particular group or groups to which one happens to belong, and other similar factors. I have recommended . . . that the time has come to think more broadly. We should admit students on the basis of merit, but a broader kind of merit that takes into account not only memory and analytical skills, but also creative skills, practical skills, and wisdom-based skills, including ethical ones. Once students are admitted to college, we should teach and assess their performance using a similar model. Id. at 177-178.).