Though clearly written in a pre-9/11 bubble of optimism, David Brooks’s idea of The Organization Kid has been particularly resonant in a recent revival of generation wars. So what happened to the hyperachieving students, those energetic meritocratic elite? Many of them became disillusioned 20-somethings. And somewhere underneath this tired, we-have-it-worse generation war, there’s a question of the role of the institution.
American universities are good at churning out walking resumes, but isn’t the role of academe to teach students how to question, how to think critically, how to analyze? Should universities be expected to undertake such issues of character building? Or is this the natural byproduct of letting everyone into the sparkling pearly gates of College with promises of middle-class security on the other side?