Affirmative action isn’t just about merit, defined by the same one size fits all empirical measures of the past. The purpose of education can no longer be about sifting out who deserves merit, and taming those who don’t. That competitive model is obsolete. If we are to survive and thrive in the 21st Century, education needs to be about how to solve problems collaboratively.
As Harvard’s Lani Guinier explains in this brilliant video, in order to solve a problem, you don’t want just the smartest person–or even the two smartest people– in the room, because they will get stuck with the same way of thinking. She gives a scenario where Steven and John both score about 7 out of 10 on a test. Jane only scores 5 out of 10, but she got all the answers right that Steven and John got wrong. What’s the better team? Steven and John? or Steven and Jane? The latter, of course. THAT is what affirmative action is about, not just giving merit to the highest test scorers.
Instead, our higher institutions have been in such a rut for so long of admitting only the highest scoring students (even with Affirmative Action), that there is not enough diversity of thinking– not enough people who have different experiences and different perspectives working together and learning from one another. This may sound very odd — but it is a little like inbreeding pure-bred dogs. After awhile, the intelligence suffers. Mix the breed, and you have a brilliant animal. When we mix our “intelligences” we, as a team, are smarter.
Rainbow Community School is committed to diversifying our faculty, parents, and student body. Together, we can learn.