In light of the scandal in university admissions that broke on Tuesday, this article by Clifton Mark on all of the fallacies embedded in our attachment to the notion of meritocracy should have particular resonance. The article came out last week but perhaps can be used to capture a fuller set of learnings from the admissions scandal. The title of the piece is, “A belief in meritocracy is not only false: it’s bad for you.”
Mark makes the case through research that a belief in meritocracy is part and parcel of the rags-to-riches story central to our public consciousness and is responsible for having driven a lot of badly focused social policy.
The university admissions scandal involves rich people buying their children’s way into prestigious universities, a practice that, let’s face it, has been going on for years in many guises. Students without money and their parents regularly compete against such legacies, but we have retained a belief that if one simply works hard enough, one will reap the benefits in relation to effort and smarts. The fact that the statistics do not support this does not matter as much as the fact that we can always find a story that does, haunted as we are by Horatio Alger. We certainly don’t need to eschew hard work and learning as values, but it is not the equalizer that many still hope it will be.
[For more on this story by RUTH MCCAMBRIDGE, go to https://nonprofitquarterly.org...t-meritocracy-trap/?]