迈克尔·桑德尔称,哈佛大学应抽签入学

知名政治哲学家认为,“高学历者”的社会地位不断上升,可能会滋生民粹主义

九月 7, 2020
Michael Sandel, professor at Harvard University
Source: Getty

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政治哲学家迈克尔·桑德尔(Michael Sandel)认为,顶尖高校需要从根本上重新思考自己作为“精英主义秩序分配机器”的角色。

桑德尔教授告诉泰晤士高等教育,他在自己的新书《功绩的专制:共同利益成为何物?》(The Tyranny of Merit: What’s become of the common good?)中研究了过去40年历史不仅见证了“不断加剧的不平等”,还见证了“对成功的态度的改变”。结果,“那些跻身最前列的人认为他们的成功完全得益于自身,并认为市场给予成功者的甜头是他们应得的。而这也暗示,那些失败者也应接受自己的命运。”“胜者与败者”的世界,也是“傲慢与屈辱”的世界。

桑德尔在哈佛大学(Harvard University)任安妮·T与罗伯特·M·巴斯政府研究教授。他继续说道,高等教育深受这些发展的影响,因为“顶尖高校已经扮演了机会仲裁者的角色,所以这些高校站在精英竞争系统的顶端。他们分发文凭,而这些文凭助长了我上述所讲的态度。”

在许多标准下看,治理社会和制定政策的精英都比过去更多样化,但同时也更集中在受过高等教育的人中。桑德尔教授解释说,这至少不公平地排除了那些没有学位的人的见解;而他们“有比许多具有高等学历的人更好的实践判断力和对同胞的认同感”。诸如“社会科学中越来越强调的技术者治国形式,尤其是教授经济学的价值中立方式”这样的学科趋势可能是有害的,因为这“阻碍了接受这种教育的人的实践判断和视野”。

此外,还存在态度问题。正如《功绩的专制》中指出的,巴拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)不仅“在整个任期内对高学历者有偏爱”,还倒退性地习惯于把“聪明”一词(“聪明的法规”、“聪明的增长”、“聪明的削减开支”等)作为至高赞赏。而“聪明的政策”往往要求“聪明的人”,即技术型官员和精英,来执行。

桑德尔教授认为,考虑到这样的环境,在“许多职场人员和精英中广泛存在的不满情绪”是合理的。“我认为那些因民粹主义反弹而感到惊讶的主流政党和政客之所以措手不及,是因为他们沉浸于高学历精英的优越感中,选择性忽视了那些没有从四年制大学获得文凭的人的声音。”

桑德尔教授注意到,“他们努力奋斗的目标是进入一流学院和大学”。他认为,这看起来似乎使这些高校受益,但高校和整个社会正在为此付出代价。

因此,他敦促高校采取行动,“以确保他们招收有才华的非校友后代的学生”——如今,哈佛大学此类学生的比例并不比1960年高。此外,高校还需“重视其他方面的多样性”。他担心,现在,甚至像课外俱乐部和社团这样的“课外学生生活的方面”都“过度被建立人脉的活动和高压的选择和拒绝的仪式”所支配。兄弟会和姐妹会就是他反对的两个例子:“如果我可以挥动魔杖,我会让它们消失。我认为它们对大学生活没有健康的影响。”

然而到目前为止,桑德尔教授为这种情况提出的最激进的解决方法是他所称的“抽签入学”。

哈佛大学和斯坦福大学(Stanford University)每年都收到4万份申请,而只能录取2000名学生。尽管桑德尔教授承认某些申请人需要被筛选掉,但他相信“他们中大多数都能适应学习任务,并能做得很好”。顶尖高校应该从合格候选人中选择学生,而不应该花费大量精力选择最好的学生——众所周知,这种选拔是不精确的科学。正如他在书中所说,引入机遇元素会帮助“抑制功绩的傲慢”。

这是一个颇具争议的想法,但桑德尔教授希望我们多么认真地看待这个提议?

他回答说:“我不是完全轻率地提出这个建议。我认为我们应该认真对待这个提议,但我不觉得它会很快被采用。如果人们持更怀疑的态度,我建议采取一种折衷的解决方案,即以通常方式录取一半的学生,并通过抽签录取另一半,然后看他们表现如何。斯坦福大学在20世纪60年代后期认真考虑了这一方案。教务委员会同意了这个方案,但分管招生的院长表示反对。”

“抽签入学”短时间内可能不会实行。与此同时,桑德尔教授希望马上看到一个“有关当前高校招生政策如何在广泛的社会中强化关于输赢的态度的辩论”。

matthew.reisz@timeshighereducation.com

本文由陆子惠为泰晤士高等教育翻译。

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Reader's comments (4)

What is this, certainly not education as we know it in the British Isles. The tone of clubs and societies which are about keeping people out have the nasty aroma of bullying surrounding them and it starts very early on. I saw the American system of 'education' at first hand when living there. At primary school the fastest most aggressive children got to the computer first , teachers were barely interested in looking after the shyer child..
From a UK viewpoint I doubt this would tackle inequality. You have the whole Clarendon public schools - Oxbridge universities clique, along with daddy's connections in finance, politics, law etc, and a family wealthy enough to fund the student's unpaid intern time. That is what copperplates their career for the next generation of lucrative earnings, and excludes poor outsiders. Doing the 'right' degree at the 'right'university, e.g. Law at Cambrodge, as opposed to say Marketing at Bedford, is a necessary but not sufficient part of preparation for that gilded life. Paradixically in fact is is the children of the uber-wealthy who can 'afford' to do less remunerative degrees like History, still at Oxbridge, because daddy has assuredthemenough wealth not to have togrib around with job aopps,CVs interns etc. A lottery might just exclude some intellectually gifted but poor students, in favour of less able but lucky ones. For a true meritocracy, first abolish internships, then maybe have more blind assessment of CV,s with certain details like location of university/school omitted, just the qualification levels included. However this would still bias against poorer pupils who, in poorer neighbourhoods, stand less chance of getting those good grades. To remedy that we need much more funding of disadvantaged areas.
Well meaning but wrong headed strategy!! ... the least inexact ( science) of all the selection criteria to anything or anywhere ( even a papacy ) is merit. Pad merit is one thing, Cloud it quite another : the latter using a host of ‘ sentimental’ alloys will toss more problems than solve. admissions could be stratified into merit merit plus merit minus but merit always Basil jide fadipe.
The previous posters seem to think that the large majority of students applying to Harvard or MIT or Penn are not highly qualified, but the opposite is true. Admissions officers and high school counselors are almost unanimous in noting that the types of students who apply to the most elite schools almost all have perfect grades and perfect or near-perfect test scores. 25% of applicants to Harvard have a perfect 1600 on the SAT, something only a few thousand students in the country every year achieve--yet 95% of the students who apply to Harvard are rejected, despite the fact that 80% of them could credibly do the work and benefit from the experience. I think its a provocative and useful idea that should be tried, perhaps by a maverick school like the University of Chicago (6% acceptance rate) or Caltech (where the average Math SAT is 800--75% of applicants to MIT score perfectly on the Math test).

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