The organization kid
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David Brooks The Atlantic Online The New York Times. The Organization Kid. Pre-reading.

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The Organization Kid

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The organization kid

David Brooks

The Atlantic Online

The New York Times

The Organization Kid


Pre reading

Pre-reading

  • The title of this selection alludes to an influential study by William H. Whyte, called The Organization Man (1956). Whyte wanted to understand people who not only worked for “The Organization,” but also “belonged” to it. What do you anticipate might be the characteristics of an organization kid? For the adult, the organization is the place of work, the corporation: what might be the organization for a kid?


In reading

In reading

  • Crusade (par. 3)

  • to shoot the breeze (par. 4)

  • Paidea (Paideia) (par. 4):meaning

  • Millennialism: meaning

  • to hit the treadmill (par. 8)

  • Meritocracy (par. 13): meaning

  • Old Navy (par. 18): meaning

  • Abercrombie & Fitch: meaning


Building vocabulary

Building vocabulary

  • 1. goal-oriented: strictly focused on achieving a certain goal, usually to exclusion of all else

  • 2. end in itself: something that is desirable for itself rather than as a means to something else

  • 3. meritocratic elite: a meritocracy (a word coined by Michael Young in his 1958 book The Rise of the Meritocracy) describes government by those (an elite) regarded as having merit (meaning intelligence plus effort), a quality established through such means as SATs and civil service exams


Building vocabulary1

Building vocabulary

  • 4. Boomer parents: parents from the “baby boom” generation, roughly those born immediately after the Second World War

  • 5. Gallup survey: Gallup is the best-known scientific polling organization. The gallup Organization conducts regular polls of the public employing modern statistical methods

  • 6. Retro-upbeat 1962 pre-assassination innocence: the innocence of the upbeat era before assassination of President John K. Kennedy on November 22, 1963


Understanding the writer s ideas

Understanding the writer’s ideas

  • 1. They are busy at all hours of the day and night, too busy to sleep.

  • 2. Read newspapers, follow politics or good causes or establish meaningful relationships. They express regret but the writer says “nowhere did I find anybody who seriously considered living any other way” (par. 6). The writer feels something is being lost. In his day, for example, “shooting the breeze” mattered (par. 4)


Understanding the writer s ideas1

Understanding the writer’s ideas

  • 3. They are just “tools for processing information” (par. 5).

  • 4. “Opportunity lures them” (par. 6)

  • 5. They enjoy them as necessary opportunities (par. 6).

  • 6. “They’re not trying to buck the system; they’re trying to climb it” (par. 10)


Understanding the writer s ideas2

Understanding the writer’s ideas

  • 7. “Kids of all stripes lead lives that are structured, supervised, and stuffed with enrichment (par. 14)

  • 8. The Clinton runners of things participated in college protest (par. 12).


Understanding the writer s techniques

Understanding the writer’s techniques

  • 1. “At the schools and colleges where the next leadership class is being bred, one finds not angry revolutionaries, despondent slackers, or dark cynics but the Organization Kid” (par. 19).


Understanding the writer s techniques1

Understanding the writer’s techniques

  • 2. An engaged observer is passionately concerned with what s/he’s observing. Perhaps Brooks should be described as a concerned, or curious observer? He notes that the new elite is losing something that he valued as a student, but he also notes that today’s students have significant strengths. See, for example, his summary of qualities in par. 19. Or his observation that these students are not “disputatious,” which Brooks however calls, in a phrase that is hardly flattering, a “verbal tic,” that is, the need to apologize beforehand if you’re going to disagree with someone.


Understanding the writer s techniques2

Understanding the writer’s techniques

  • 3. “Part of this is just Princeton. It has always been the preppiest of the Ivy League schools” (par. 13). But: “the young elite are not entirely unlike the other young” (par. 13). Pars. 14-18 pertain to a generation, even if the Princeton undergrads are the epitome of certain generational qualities.


Understanding the writer s techniques3

Understanding the writer’s techniques

  • 4. The writer understands this student generation in the context of previous generations. Insofar as today’s elite is compared to earlier ones, it seems overly-prudent and goal-oriented. But—and this requires another contrast—what seems dour is not dour to them: they are not money mad but rather ambitious.


Understanding the writer s techniques4

Understanding the writer’s techniques

  • 5. In the first part he uses observation and illustration. In the second part he uses statistical studies and authorities. He does so because in the first part he can rely on his own observations and offer distinct examples; but to grasp the full import of these examples requires the context of a generation and a society as a whole, and this cannot be achieved by observation alone.


Understanding the writer s techniques5

Understanding the writer’s techniques

  • 6. It is a good conclusion because it summarizes and encapsulated the essay as a whole; the thesis statement is found here, in the conclusion.


Mixing patterns

Mixing Patterns

  • Illustration: the emails; Paidea (par. 4)

  • Comparison: shooting the breeze vs. Paidea (par. 4); the Clinton elite and this elite (par. 12)

  • Analysis: par. 6; par. 8


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