Elite[s] and elitists, Cooper and Others

HSchinske at aol.com HSchinske at aol.com
Wed Nov 5 15:20:52 EST 2003

In a message dated 11/5/03 12:13:49 PM Central Standard Time, Otter Perry 

> My siblings and I were endowed with the ability to do
> really, really well on tests formulated by ETS.  [For
> those of you who live outside the range of ETS, they
> do important standardized tests for getting into
> university.]  People were always very impressed by our
> scores, but unfortunately we didn't have all those other
> qualities that make for success in university, like good
> work habits, or, in my case, any work habits at all.
> It did take me a while to figure out that being good at
> these tests did not signify personal wonderfulness, and
> I still can be occasionally caught privately gloating
> over these scores, all of which I can still recite.

They've gone and changed the SAT's around so that they don't depend on 
aptitude any longer. You've got to KNOW something now, you can't do it all on the 
fly. Hmf.

Personally I do think that doing well on that sort of test means something. 
It implies one particular *sort* of quick-wittedness (what a teacher of mind 
called "having a fast-twitch mind"), and I like that sort and think it's well 
worth having. It's just that NOT doing well on such tests means very little, 
because there are many other ways to be good at things. (My father was shocked, 
shocked I tell you, that I would consider marrying a man who had not been a 
National Merit Semifinalist. He calmed down when he found out that Bob had made 
Phi Beta Kappa.)

As for work habits, well, it's quite hard to learn to work if you haven't 
ever had to. I was lucky to have gotten into a tougher school before I was ruined 
entirely, because my entire time at non-tough schools I had never had to work 
at anything. I either knew something instantly or I didn't know it at all, 
and either way I passed. I remember grade school as being about three worksheets 
a day and the rest of the time reading in a corner. It can't have been quite 
that bad, of course. 

Helen Schinske
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