Elite Students, Top Universities, Brexit and Donald Trump

I personally don’t admire those extremely excellent students with excellent experiences and excellent leadership, whom are the favourite elite students wanted by those famous top academies in the world. Some people may think I write this because of being jealous. Actually, no. Today most of the parents want to foster their children as a teenage genius. For example, you can see many kids in the USA have won many international prizes for mathematics, science or art just in order to get them admitted by IVY leagues. And they also participate in many team sports and being the captains of them just in order to show they have leadership, which is wanted by elite universities. This education style, in my opinion, is linked with two political earthquakes: Brexit and Mr. Donald Trump as the American president. These type of issues happened unexpectedly, indicating a fact that most people are unwilling to recognize: those elite students which are regarded as elites of this society are not qualified or capable leaders of the society. In other words, those elites students are not true elite which can contribute to the society as the educators expected.

Now let’s figure out the chain of logic. First of all, let’s have an observation of those extremely excellent elite students who got accepted by IVY, Oxbridge etc. Most of the students admitted by these top universities are like “versatile genius”. They are top students in terms of mathematics, science or technology; they have the opportunities to give speech in important conferences and are deemed as the future stars; they are active in voluntary campaigns in Africa, South Asia and Latin America; they are top teenage pianists and hold their personal concerts; finally, they are team captains in sports or other activities to show off their leadership. In short, those students who have been accepted by elite universities are stars in the views of parents and educators and they will be the leaders of the future society. However, if we have a retrospect of the past century, we will find that most of the students that were regarded as “future leaders” were indeed working as senior managers working for those “true leaders” at their time.

I think the most famous examples for this point of view are Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs. How to define leaders? We can not simply say those who earn huge quantity of money or who are working as senior managers of a company or senior officials of government; we should say that those lead us exploring a new field of technology, science, social culture or politics are true leaders of this world. It means that the leaders are mostly creative and rebellious; and most of this kind of people were and are not recognized by contemporary crowds. Edison left school in his childhood, and Steve Jobs – if unfortunately Jobs had been living in current society, his behaviours and thoughts could have made him directly ruled out from elite universities because he was “not a versatile genius” nor “a student with remarkable experiences of leadership”. But now we regard Steve Jobs as a technological and social leader just because he gave us a new view of information technology, industrial design and commercial form. This is the true leader of the world. But how about those elite students? As far as I know, the students who are embraced by countless honours from their educators or society with the praise of “creativity” are just making some decorations to the existed stuff; to be more ironical, they are not creative at all. Those true creative kids might be criticized by with description such as “harsh”; at least, those top universities can not get a formula to judge whether they are elites or not. If a “genius” can be judged by a fixed formula, he or she is just not a “genius” but only a smart excellent student. No creativity, no leadership. Smart students can be good managers, but can not be leaders.

The next step is the vanity of elite students. Because they are showered in honours, prizes and praises for a long time, they tend to get two types of psychological conditions: first of all, they have vanity, and often do something just on the purpose to win honours and reputations for them; second, they dare not to face new stuff. Elite students want to get in the elite universities, so they have to find the standard of their admission. Do you believe that they learn and do everything just want to be more useful to this society? If you believe it, you are too simple. They are just trying their best to fit in the admission criteria (the formulae of admission); in the elite students’ own words, this process is called “be the best myself”. Personally, I think this saying is awful. One man should be useful to the society first, they talk about “the best myself”; and to do something, you have to find the suitable and optimized methods instead of what is called “be my best” etc. Those elite kids want to be the best themselves just to get into top universities. Then after a while they will be confused why they want to be the best; how does “being excellent” make sense? The next portion of their behaviour is that they tend to study only few courses in the universities, such as law, literature, economics or medical science then being a doctors etc (I don’t have any sense of diminishing these courses or careers). Because they have been called “elite” in the past 20 years of their life, so they choose these careers just because these careers are regarded as elites of our society. And they dare not to study or do new things because staying where they are is the best way to stay “excellent” – who knows whether they can do the best again once they move to a new field? And this phenomenon results in the next but most serious scenario: the elite students are narrow-sighted!

As I analyzed in the past paragraph, they are only focused on few subjects and careers, they become careless about other parts of the society; and afterwards they become elaborate and selfish, because they only care about their own life and future prospect. And the most terrible scene is that once they get into top universities, they are only interacting with the kids who are same as themselves! They will start a race about good reputations and honours being an elite students; they only know how their same-typed peers think about the world.

Until now, we can safely conclude that the education which wants to select elites from the crowds are indeed selecting those who are selfish, utilitarian, timid and narrow-sighted smart senior managers, instead of social leaders. They pay more attention to their reputation as elites but don’t have methods nor courage to be practical. I have a good American friend who is a black guy. Once a time he complained with me about those elites who graduated from elite universities: “Mate, they always advocate ‘political correctness’, such as ‘racial equality’ and ‘immigration welcome’, just because they still want to win a good reputation as a social elite; but they never want to have a look at our black people’s districts and they will never live in Bronx, New York!” Leaders do everything for society; they want to improve the condition of our society and see the future direction where we should go. But those selfish elite students just want to keep their reputation as elites. Politically correct slogans can give them the fame as “humanism”, “environmentalist” and “tolerance”. But they never want to or be able to land on the ground to see how on earth should we figure the problem”; some elites just want to welcome more refugees just because they want to be praised as a tolerant politicians; but how could these refugees fit into the society and resolve the cultural conflicts and what if native people are bothered by new comers, they tend to ignore these problems or just slightly state “human right is above anything”; they are always claiming that “globalization” is the future but never consider about how people in different countries with various development level and industrial structure will deal with the problems brought by globalization. In addition, because of their narrow-sightedness, they have no idea about how most crowds of ordinary people in the country think and do; they don’t have idea about how the society runs practically. As a result, most of people had been fed up with those beautiful slogans (or even more harshly speaking, lies) spoken from the mouths of elites in 2016. No matter how those famous experts, politicians, entertainment stars and media warned the “bad results” of Brexit, British people drove this country out of the EU; few months later, no matter how Hollywood stars, famous professors or elites in the USA claimed their opposing of Donald Trump, American people sent him to the White House. If Macron and Merkel are still sticking to those slogans and actions that can bring them elite reputations, French and German people will remove them in the future as well. And we can not rule of the possibility that Marine Le Pen will become next French president 5 years later!

The mainstream media describe Brexit and Donald Trump as the failure of globalization; indeed, they are failures of our education that is always wanting to find and foster elite students!

16:06 18 June 2017

Just before going to 

Summer Ball of Swansea University

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Why STEM subjects don’t attract young students?

Governments around the world are advocating a slogan: “We need more young people to study STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). However, it seems the result of this call is not so satisfying. Young people today don’t have such a passion on studying science and technology, as the previous generations had during 1960s to 1980s after Sputnik. As far as I know, my peers are most likely to study law, literature, history and performing art etc. The most popular scientific course is computer science, whose popularity is still far from humanity, social science or art.

In the discussion of why young students today tend to keep STEM subjects at bay when choosing university courses, a common opinion is that studying STEM requests too much time, effort or even IQ; most of them don’t want to take so much time to study STEM, so they choose humanity or art, which are “easy”. To be honest, I can’t share this point of view. It is far from what I have experienced and thought. If we say STEM is too hard, why there were numerous youth going into the field of STEM and later became famous scientists and engineers in NASA, DAARPA, Rolls-Royce etc. ? Does it mean the IQ or brain of human has been degenerating in the past few decades? Of course not. People don’t study STEM only because they don’t have the motivation. Why don’t students have motivation? Because our society doesn’t like graduates from STEM enough, though we think they are important. And all the reasons lie here: a commercial world!

If we pay a little attention to the mainstream media, except Discovery Channel and National Geographic Society, we will easily find that the absolutely most of the stars or heroes in our world are 3 types: financiers, silicon valley genius and young entertainment stars. Every young student, like myself, wants to be a rich and successful person in the future. Those who want to do a job that attracts them purely for personal hobby despite of unsatisfying income are always minority; because finally we need to make a living. When the media boast how rich the 3 types of people I mentioned above, students will definitely want to study the knowledge relevant to these fields, such as art, finance & business, IT etc. It’s not our young people’s selfishness, but just the nature of human. And now the government encourages young students study STEM, because “science and technology is the future of the world”, “the nation which have most scientists is the most powerful one in the future”. Yes, we totally agree with it. But have you ever heard of a scientist as rich as Mark Zuckerberg or as famous as Justin Bieber? No – yes, we once had, he is Carl Sagan. But after him, we couldn’t find another one any more. Even Brian Cox has far less popularity than Mr. Sagan had 30 years ago. Most of scientists and engineers give young people this impression: they are nerd; they study a lot; if you get a theoretical physics phd, you can’t find a job; scientists who have worked for NASA for 30 years earn almost same as a graduate programmer in Facebook. After seeing this cruel fact, do you think young people would study STEM subjects? Why should we study the hardest subjects but earn far less than an entertainment teen star or a junior programmer? Although the government officials have called frequently that young people should study STEM, but sorry, we are not sage, and we are living in a practical world. Just like that saying: “Those who are claiming political correctness have never lived in Bronx.”

Some people, especially those economists, have their own theory to explain the cruel fact I mentioned above. It’s called “supply-demand balance”. This summary can be summarized like this in short: because there are more people liking film stars and more users talking on Facebook, so people working in these industries SHOULD earn a lot; but there are few people using NASA’s product and there are too rare people studying theory of wormhole, so scientists’ income is REASONABLY low. I’m totally supporting this theory in a totally commercial society. But here comes next problem: can everything be commercialized? Can everything evaluated by its business value? Should our society thoroughly obey natural economic rules? If we totally obey the natural rule in a dynamic system, we will see water flowing down instead of soaring up. If the society wants to go forward, there must be government pushing it. A free commercialized society leads to short-sighted atmosphere. Because of commercial profit, there won’t be a company willing to invest 10 billion dollars and 10 years to build a space probe flying to Jupiter. Same principle for the income of scientists and engineers. By obeying the rule of commercial society, we will see the income of financiers, IT genius and stars going increasingly higher, and then more and more people flooding into university degrees such as business, it, music and other performing arts, no matter how government claim the importance of STEM subjects. When everything is commercialized, the value of STEM is underestimated. I do think people like Mr. Zuckerberg is improving our communication, but compared with scientists, maybe their contribution difference is really amazing. Because providing service online is a virtual stuff, but our society is improved by producing new theory and sensible material.

The best way to improve the popularity of STEM education is not a political slogan. The first task for government and media is to improve the treat for STEM talents with laws and policies and improve the fame and reputation of them. We can’t expect young people are sage, who only contribute to society but care nothing about self-interest.

17 Jun 2017