The Corner

Books for Eggheads

A reader grumbles:

Derb — I’d be very interested in your reaction to the list of “books every high school student should read.” That K-Lo is flogging. I find it more of the old “no child left behind” mind set. The list would be better named “books every high school student with an IQ over 115 should read.” There are a few books on the list that are accessible to a child with an 85 IQ, but not very many. If you take the name of the list seriously, it implies that “every” high school student does not include any person with an IQ incapable of reading the list. I don’t like the overuse of the term “elitist,” but a good definition of it would be concern only for the most cognitively gifted 15% and thinly disguised contempt for the other 85 percent of the population. The bow-tie sector of the Republican party certainly seems to fit the bill.

I pretty much agree. It’s preposterous to suggest that every high-school kid read Aristotle and Dostoyevsky. These are books for very smart people of a theoretical/intellectual inclination. For the great majority of high-schoolers, having books like this forced on them is insulting and disorienting, and a waste of time for all concerned.

The besetting sin of intellectuals is their assumption that everyone else is intellectual, or wishes to be. This is not the case.


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