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How Deerfield Can Stay Relevant
Kishor Bharadwaj '19 Contributing Writer
March 7, 2019

I think I can safely assume most seniors have been asked the question “why do you want to go to college?” either by their college advisor, an interviewer, or some overly-inquisitive and bright-eyed underclassman. The answer should be, “Well, if you haven’t noticed, I go to a college-preparatory school.” So the question should really be, “Why do you go to a college preparatory school?”

Credit: Mark Chung

There definitely exist far cheaper and cost-effective methods to guarantee matriculation to a decent university than to attend Deerfield, an expensive private school.

If the mid-twentieth-century days of Deerfield shipping off kids to various Ivy League schools are over, and there are far cheaper ways to become college-ready, what use is a college preparatory school? Obviously there still exists a demand for these types of schools – otherwise they wouldn’t be able to charge the amount they do. Indeed, the vast majority of my peers, including myself, value Deerfield as something far greater than an incubator for higher education. However, various actions can be taken by the administration to equip students with a more holistic toolkit that prepares them better for the future. I present two solutions below:

Teach English differently.

As a STEM student, I am glad we are required to take four years of English, because not only is a strong command for the English language needed to prosper in any field, but also, as Noam Chomsky suggests, language is inherently connected to our thinking. Writing is an incredibly powerful tool that allows people to minimize entropy while formulating and reformulating thoughts.

However, for Deerfield to better prepare students, English should be taught at multiple levels. One as it is currently taught, through literature – and one that teaches the skills of effective reading, writing, thinking, and communication through a more direct and explicit approach. A piece of literature works well as the epicenter of an English class, as its nebulousness and complexity beckon students to read, think, and write about it. I must say, though, this approach has not worked too well for me.

English classes based on literature reward only those who enjoy literature by providing them the gift of thinking and communicating through writing. However, for those students who lack interest in the literature at hand, the current system does not incentivize them to think as critically and creatively as possible. I believe boredom is a signal to the brain to “do something more productive, or at least do something else than what you’re doing right now,” as Jordan Peterson and other modern-day thinkers suggest. Thus, a bored brain will have no interest to pursue things critically or interest to think and argue about something. In essence, those bored by the literature of English class are at a disadvantage. The purpose of English class is not to solely teach literature, but to teach students how to communicate, read, think and write with power. The study of literature is obviously an important and necessary aspect of education, but cannot be the only tool used to teach critical thinking to students.

Promote a realistic community that works with, not against, conformity.

Deerfield can also help students better understand the linkage between conformity and creativity and between dominance and recompense. An issue brought up frequently in left-wing media is the discussion of identity. Identity is defined by such media groups as something one has significant control over, by bringing up concepts such as judgment-free zones.

For example, it is wrong for one to judge somebody with multiple piercings and tattoos on their face, as this is only an expression of their identity. Yet, even though left-wing media groups consider identity as this free concept, at the same time, identity allegedly can’t be shared equally, because of perceived mockery or cultural appropriation. For example, I, an English speaker with a natural Indian accent, can get away with imitating a white accent, whereas if a white person spoke in India with an Indian accent, they would be castigated for mockery and appropriation, even though the white person is attempting to assimilate to the larger majority culture.

I see identity as something more communal. Identity is something that is partially shaped by oneself, and partially by the people around them. People should be free to express themselves how they want to, and others should be free to judge them accordingly.

Deerfield needs to ease off on efforts to only focus on each person’s individuality and instead focus on a cultivation of a collective individuality.

To an extent, conformity is important. Most people wouldn’t be employed if it weren’t for their ability to conform. One can be extremely talented and competent, but if they are a pain in the rear end to work with, they won’t get any business. At the same time, most people wouldn’t be employed if it weren’t for their individual talents and personalities.

Deerfield needs to recognize both the importance of conformity and individuality. Conformity breeds good execution, while individuality breeds good creativity. To express true individuality, one needs to risk offending others by challenging the status quo. Otherwise, we’d still be in the dark ages. To execute tasks, one needs to risk his or her individuality for a collective good. Otherwise, we’d have a boatload of ideas and no work to show. By only bringing importance to individuality and ensuring people do not get offended, Deerfield may be shortchanging impressionable students who believe the rest of the world also attaches this level of importance to individuality and pleasantry.

Many classmates tell me about how “the school has gone soft.” I believe this is what they’re referring to: the lack of acceptance of the importance of an equilibrium between individuality and conformity, and how this balance cannot be decided by just by majorities or minorities (seen in the example regarding the white person in India), or by some arbitrary, quantifiable factor. Rather, it can only be understood by a critical and inquisitive human mind. By creating a culture that teaches boring conformists and “snowflakes” to live symbiotically instead of in opposition, Deerfield can ensure their students shine.

I want the best for the community and want to ensure we live up to our motto. Our actions trailblaze our heritage, meaning we (over time) create our heritage. In order of us to be worthy of our heritage, we must be worthy of ourselves. We can only do this by never settling and continually striving for excellence. As of now, I think the school does many things well, but still has significant room to improve. If I can add my perspective to move the needle ever so slightly more towards excellence, then I am grateful.