Thursday, May 03, 2007

degrees of madness, or

the lie that changed the world?

How many students have been accepted to MIT during the 25 or so years that former Director of Admissions, Marilee Jones, was there?

How many have gone on to become leaders in or contributors to their fields, to their communities (even their nations), to their families?

MIT would never have hired Ms. Jones if she hadn't fudged the part on her resume about actually graduating from college, most likely. Of course there is no way of knowing what courses the lives of all the students she admitted, encouraged, and gave tremendous opportunity to would have taken had she toed that line and not been hired for an administrative support role, from which she worked her way up the darwinian meritocracy first to Assistant Dean and finally Dean of Admissions.

But she did fudge her resume, and she did get hired, and many people and institutions are better off as a result, not least, of course MIT itself.

In a world that worships false gods like pedigrees and SAT's, a world that classifies and categorizes, standardizes and ranks, securitizes and peddles everything and everyone and every possible perception of reality, it is entirely possible -- in fact, it is unavoidable -- to strain out the gnats (don't fudge that resume) and swallow the camels (forego your contribution to the human race).

Marilee has paid a high price for swallowing that gnat; this woman, who dared to bring a feminine, human touch to sterile world of ones and zeroes, a world notorious for its sheer mechanization and lack of humaness; this woman, this mother, who cared enough about her applicants to ask after their children; this "mom away from mom."

Can someone tell me how those who have benefited from her career-long leadership in her field can be anything but dumbstruck at the irony of that career being ruined because her pursuit of higher education was interrupted by...maybe the need to make a living, which turned into the calling to make the lives of others better; to give a shot at a pedigree to so many others?

Am I advocating misrepresenting one's self? Of course not. I'm advocating sanity in the checks and balances, an alternative to the all-or-nothing, one-or-zero mentality that has taken over the collective mindset of the modern gatekeepers of earthly fortune.

Some people, maybe, are too smart for "higher education."


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