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Old 09-10-2011, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,785,602 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
Many of these same people of course want the best electrician, plumber, alergist, arborist, surgeon, hair stylist, golf caddy or what have you to come work with or for them.
FWIW, I recently had kidney surgery and my surgeon went to Herndon High School. IMO he is an excellent surgeon. Attending a regular high school did not keep him from excelling in medical school or from acheiving his dreams. (Assuming, of course, that his dreams were to become a surgeon.)

 
Old 09-10-2011, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Brambleton, VA
2,136 posts, read 4,628,152 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khuntrevor View Post
What amazes me is that hardly anyone ever mentions the negative impacts of pulling the brightest students out of every other school.
I disagree that the "brightest" are all at TJ, but anyway...

Loudoun's Academy of Science has students at its campus for STEM classes part of the week, then they go to other classes at their home schools for the rest of the week. If either of my kids are interested in STEM when they are older, I would rather they go to AOS than TJ.
 
Old 09-10-2011, 02:36 PM
 
1,403 posts, read 1,844,917 times
Reputation: 451
"Anti-intellectualism" can also be a rallying cry of the petty mind that fancies itself intellectual. Most real intellectuals I know do not disdainfully dismiss others -- even those less educated than they -- as "pedestrian" minds. It's usually the pedant who engage in such talk.

Now, judging from some of the responses to my critical post earlier, it seems to me that some folks here are under a serious misapprehension. The objections to my post seem to be along the lines of "TJ does have well-rounded academic programs" or "there are wonderful, smart kids there" or, perhaps the worst and most irrelevant of the lot in my view, "smart kids are more likely to become doctors and lawyers than dumb kids."

Now, I understand that there is a rather common stereotype that TJ (or Stuyvesant or Bronx Science or insert any highly touted magnet school) students are all a bunch of math and science geeks with distorted social and emotional lives. Certainly the responses to my post seem to spend much energy to rebut this stereotype.

But that was NOT my objection.

First of all, I am sure TJ teaches a wonderful diversity of rigorous academic disciplines and offers a wide ranging variety of extracurricular activities. Stuyvesant certainly did (and long before TJ even existed in its current form). And I have no doubt that there are wonderful human being-pupils at TJ.

As impressive as these may be, I must break the news that TJ and its students are neither unique nor singular. There are now many such magnet schools around the country that offer similar programs and house similar student bodies. One of the benefits (and curses) of having diplomas from elite universities is that I get to interview such students and, sadly for me, they are quite similar -- highly ambitious, very smart, often intense and generally with a distressingly similar curricullum vitae, complete with an x amount of extracurricular activities and volunteer work, all designed to meet an unstated but well-known criteria set by university admissions officers.

My view of education, particularly elite secondary education, is that it should be more than college preparation or vocational training. I tend to think that such education should begin to teach students to love beauty, seek truth, foster faith and build community -- indeed to make gentlemen and ladies out of these young souls.

I seriously doubt that such things are the daily goals of the TJ administrators or its students (or the parents, for that matter). I doubt that, notwithstanding the diversity of the course offerings, TJ students spend much of their days discussing the nature of truth or what constitutes beauty or, indeed, what virtue means for the individual and ethics mean for the society.

Indeed if most parents and students at places like TJ did have one singular daily objective (they certainly did at Stuy in my day), it would be to obtain admissions to elite universities for their children, so that they can become "doctors and lawyers" afterwards (though investment bankers seem to outnumber both).

I am all for elite education. I am all for competition and intensity. But there has to an overriding sense -- of purpose -- that all of that elitism, competition and intensity should be geared in service of the most beautiful things in human existence rather than self-promotion and success. With these institutions, we should be producing leaders of men and women, the eventual elders of our society who understand noblesse oblige (or simply what it means to be noble in spirit), not very highly compensated tradesmen (the term "the town doctor" used to have a meaning beyond a professional description).

And that is my main objection to institutions like TJ.
 
Old 09-10-2011, 03:34 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 26,971,398 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by claremarie View Post
Perhaps not, if you are merely considering the bottom line of employment and income. But I'm certain that there are many students who absolutely LOVED attending TJ who would have been miserable at a "regular" school in which few of their peers shared their academic interests and intensity. We have no personal experience with TJ, but do have a teenage son who never really enjoyed school until he landed in a small private school with a classical curriculum where he found other students who loved reading great books and discussing them in heated seminars. It was like night and day. Whether it leads to a "better" job than he would otherwise have found is really beside the point, as far as I'm concerned. He had a much better high school experience, which should count for something.

I can tell you one thing. The girls at my high school and the nearby ones in coastal California were pretty hot. I ended up marrying one whom I sure wouldn't trade for a TJ diploma. Also, there's no water polo at TJ. Jobs aren't everything. There are a lot of other advantages to going to a regular school.
 
Old 09-10-2011, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,785,602 times
Reputation: 42860
Quote:
Originally Posted by claremarie View Post
We have no personal experience with TJ, but do have a teenage son who never really enjoyed school until he landed in a small private school with a classical curriculum where he found other students who loved reading great books and discussing them in heated seminars.
Now this is my idea of a good reason to choose a school (rather than thinking a certain school is necessary to help your child in his future career).
 
Old 09-10-2011, 04:14 PM
 
Location: Maine
2,010 posts, read 2,695,743 times
Reputation: 2752
Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiaLimaDelta View Post
"Anti-intellectualism" can also be a rallying cry of the petty mind that fancies itself intellectual. Most real intellectuals I know do not disdainfully dismiss others -- even those less educated than they -- as "pedestrian" minds. It's usually the pedant who engage in such talk.

As impressive as these may be, I must break the news that TJ and its students are neither unique nor singular. There are now many such magnet schools around the country that offer similar programs and house similar student bodies.

My view of education, particularly elite secondary education, is that it should be more than college preparation or vocational training. I tend to think that such education should begin to teach students to love beauty, seek truth, foster faith and build community -- indeed to make gentlemen and ladies out of these young souls.

I seriously doubt that such things are the daily goals of the TJ administrators or its students (or the parents, for that matter). I doubt that, notwithstanding the diversity of the course offerings, TJ students spend much of their days discussing the nature of truth or what constitutes beauty or, indeed, what virtue means for the individual and ethics mean for the society.

Indeed if most parents and students at places like TJ did have one singular daily objective (they certainly did at Stuy in my day), it would be to obtain admissions to elite universities for their children, so that they can become "doctors and lawyers" afterwards (though investment bankers seem to outnumber both).

I am all for elite education. I am all for competition and intensity. But there has to an overriding sense -- of purpose -- that all of that elitism, competition and intensity should be geared in service of the most beautiful things in human existence rather than self-promotion and success. With these institutions, we should be producing leaders of men and women, the eventual elders of our society who understand noblesse oblige (or simply what it means to be noble in spirit), not very highly compensated tradesmen (the term "the town doctor" used to have a meaning beyond a professional description).

And that is my main objection to institutions like TJ.
I do understand (and appreciate) what you are saying, IndiaLimaDelta. Your posts always add a positive outlook to a topic.

As far as I recollect, no one here stated TJ was unique or singular among the many high schools in the United States. It just happens to be the one located in northern Virginia. It's very unlikely that northern Virginians would presume to believe that the science/math/tech school in their area is superior to those in other parts of the country.
 
Old 09-10-2011, 04:15 PM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,785,602 times
Reputation: 42860
Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiaLimaDelta View Post
Most real intellectuals I know do not disdainfully dismiss others -- even those less educated than they -- as "pedestrian" minds.
Hear, hear.
 
Old 09-10-2011, 04:27 PM
 
5,070 posts, read 8,602,011 times
Reputation: 2722
There have now been enough substantive comments on this thread that I would actually like to stop making jokes and offer a serious response.

I graduated from a FCPS high school in the decade prior to TJ's establishment as a magnet school. I received a good enough secondary school education to gain admission to a private university in the Mid-Atlantic that is particularly popular among current TJ graduates, and did well enough on AP exams that the university gave me the option - which I declined, because I wanted to take more courses - of graduating in three years. I am sure that this path helped me achieve other goals later in life. My fellow high-school students included a number of now-tenured professors at Harvard and other universities, the research head of a cutting-edge pharmaceutical firm outside Boston, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley who played a key role in the early success of Ebay and other brand-name companies, a number of men and women who became well-known in Hollywood for their acting, directing or producing talents, and no small number of CPAs, doctors and lawyers. It also included some great individuals who decided to pursue careers in the military, or became policemen, realtors, restaurant managers, musicians, SAHMs and SAHDs.

Personally, I feel lucky that no TJ existed in my time. First of all, while I certainly had a good middle-school record, there's no guarantee I would have been admitted, and I know myself well enough to know that would have been quite a blow to my sense of self-esteem as a 13-year-old. Second, I've spent the bulk of my post-high school life in the type of educational and professional environment that India Lima Delta describes, and getting to know a broader range of kids as a teenager has, I think, served me well in later life. But I think that perspective is as it should be - which is to say that it is always better to think that one was fortunate than to harbor regrets about "what might have been" had only X, Y or Z been different. I will say that I had stronger English, science and foreign language teachers at my high school than math teachers, most of whom were relatively weak. When I arrived at college, I found that students who had attended high school in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic (my freshman roommate was a Stuyvesant graduate) generally were better prepared for more demanding math classes than I was. Had I attended a TJ, that might have led me to consider more seriously an engineering or computer sciences degree, rather than to pursue a liberal arts curriculum.

By the late 1980s, when TJ was established, I had returned to the area and was living in DC. Contrary to what one post suggested, I don't recall that it was created due to "logistics." My recollection was that it was created because local politicians and business leaders in NoVa wanted to tout the area's credentials to high-tech and other companies that were thinking about setting up shop in the DC area. For those with long memories, this was the era in which every in-flight magazine you'd read on an airplane would have an advertisement urging businesses to come to Fairfax County and enjoy all the green space and then-uncrowded roads. More than a few of them were persuaded. As best I can recall, the school was not founded because the needs of talented students were not being adequately served, but because it was part of the region's effort to establish its high-tech bona fides. From that perspective, TJ was kind of like extra landing slots at Dulles, or an office park with convenient access to Route 66 or 495, but with bright students to show off to Northrop or General Dynamics instead.

The TJ students that I have met have been great kids, as have most of the non-TJ students that I've met in this area. Over time, I think the idea has developed that a large percentage of TJ students would be miserable unless they were allowed to surround themselves with an equally bright peer group. In general, I find that highly unpersuasive. At the risk of being immodest, I was pretty much in that cohort in a FCPS high school, and neither I nor my peer group (which consisted of some students who were stronger in math and science than I was) were alienated or adrift because we were deprived the opportunity to take, say, Japanese III or Advanced Robotics as sophomores. Second, while they may be in GT/AAP programs, current TJ students don't attend a dedicated magnet middle school, and they seem to do fine at Frost, Glasgow, Kilmer, Longfellow, Rocky Run, etc. Third, I've heard few reports of TJ graduates being upset because they had to sit in a college lecture hall at U.Va or JMU with students who had potentially taken only Honors classes at, say, Madison or West Potomac. So, while there might be some students who may only flourish in the type of specialized private school that Claremarie described (which sounds a bit like the secondary school equivalent of St. John's in Annapolis), the majority of TJ students, in my opinion, would do well - both academically and socially - at any FCPS high school.

Finally, I think I did appreciate the point that India Lima Delta was making in his first, lengthy post, which struck me as not directed at TJ specifically, so much as the public schools generally, and went more broadly to what type of education, in the broadest sense, he believes best serves the interests of young men and women. I think he made some fascinating points, but it also strikes me that, for any number of reasons, public schools are not currently well-positioned to inculcate the intellectual and moral values in students that he might like a school to instill - and that the majority of parents accept this because they believe that is their responsibility to do so, rather than the responsibility of public schools. Like him, I currently interview many young men and women seeking employment who have stellar resumes from leading universities. We part company to some degree, because I am not blase enough that my eyes start to glaze over when I see another resume that indicates that a student has achieved outstanding success. There's little doubt that it's an advantage getting in the door. However, if that individual shows up and suggests, by word or conduct, that he thinks is entitled to a job by reason of his resume, that is a big negative (and the odds of that happening do tend to be somewhat higher if one has gone the magnet school/top college route, because collective ego-stroking is more prevalent there). Conversely, if someone gets an interview who has attended slightly less well-known schools or has slighly lower grades, and then radiates sincerity and enthusiasm, she has the clear advantage over the top-school grad who rests on his laurels or affects a false degree of sophistication about a profession that, at the end of the day, he probably doesn't really know very much about.

There - my five cents and more.

Last edited by JD984; 09-10-2011 at 05:41 PM..
 
Old 09-10-2011, 04:42 PM
 
Location: Fairfax County
1,534 posts, read 3,311,016 times
Reputation: 507
Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
My schoolmates included a number of now-tenured professors at Harvard and other universities, the research head of a cutting-edge pharmaceutical firm outside Boston, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley who played a key role in the early success of Ebay and other brand-name companies, a number of men and women who became well-known in Hollywood for their acting, directing or producing skills, and no small number of CPAs, doctors and lawyers. It also included some great individuals who pursued military careers, or became policemen, realtors, restaurant managers, SAHMs and SAHDs.
Thanks for posting this. It really sums up nicely what may be defined as "success."

Just because someone has a $5M house in an expensive area and is an entrepreneur that was able to retire at age 32 (exaggerating here, but hopefully it conveys my intent) does not always equate to one's definition of "success." SAHPs can have a life that they define as "successful" as can folks that earn $40K at a non-profit that they love, as can folks that do amazing things as part of groups like Doctors Without Borders, etc.

I graduated from a public high school in the northeast that had a 42% graduation rate. My parents were "Depression babies" and neither made it past 7th grade. I was still able to graduate from high school (as a National Merit Scholar) and college, all the way through my PhD. My desire to "do well in school" was firmly in place before I left elementary school. Do I consider myself "successful" without the $5M house in an expensive area and not an entrepreneur and not retired at the age of 32? To quote the old TV show, "You bet your bippy."
 
Old 09-10-2011, 04:54 PM
 
Location: Maine
2,010 posts, read 2,695,743 times
Reputation: 2752
Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
Personally, I feel lucky that no TJ existed in my time. First of all, while I certainly had a good middle-school record, there's no guarantee I would have been admitted, and I know myself well enough to know that would have been quite a blow to my sense of self-esteem as a 13-year-old.

Over time, I think the idea has developed that a large percentage of TJ students would simply be miserable unless they were allowed to surround themselves with an equally bright peer group. In general, I find that rather unpersuasive.
Your entire post was awesome, JEB77, but the two points above are especially important (and many people ignore). In particular, the enormous pressure some students and their parents place on getting into selective high schools is very troubling and potentially damaging to students during an already difficult time of life.

Also agree that the notion that many TJ students would be miserable unless they were surrounded by people as bright is just not convincing. These students would (hopefully) find some support or niche in their base schools.

The very strong reactions that TJ's existence brings out of people was one of the reasons NoVA was such a tough place for me (because so many people loved to hate the school my child attended). Even though admission is supposed to make one happy, it managed to feel like a punishment.
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