Excellent Sheep Resources / Reading



Race to Nowhere. A movie and movement to transform K-12 education in response to the growing pressure on our kids. Sequel: Beyond Measure.

Losing Ourselves. A short documentary by a student at Scarsdale High School exploring achievement pressure among her peers.

Advocacy Organizations:

Challenge Success. Resources for schools and families to provide a more balanced and academically fulfilling life for their kids.

Badass Teachers Association. Organization of educators against corporate-driven educational reform.

The Education Conservancy. A nonprofit organization working to improve, and help families navigate, the college admissions process.

Redeeming America’s Promise. An organization that advocates for making public higher education tuition-free.

Non-Academic Programs:

Gap Year Association. Accrediting organization and centralized resource for gap year programs.

Work on Purpose program of Echoing Green. A program to inspire and equip young people to realize their unique way of making a social impact.

Venture for America. Nonprofit organization that places graduates with startups in emerging cities.

Alternative Educational Models:

Alternative Education Resource Organization. Primary hub of communications and support for educational alternatives around the world.

Project Wayfinder. Purpose learning curriculum and training for use in high schools and colleges.

Beyond the States. Website for information about English-language bachelors degrees in other countries (which tend to be a lot cheaper than American ones).

Off-Trail Learning. Guidance and resources for teens and young adults interested in nontraditional learning.

The Minerva Project. New liberal arts college with emphasis on global immersion and interactive seminar-based learning.

The Arete Project. Programs for college-aged women on the Deep Springs model.

Jewish Montessori Society. Association of Jewish schools built on Montessori model.

Agile Learning Centers. Schools emphasizing self-directed learning.

Wrangell Mountains Center. Seven-week field semester environmental study program in Alaska.


Alice Miller, The Drama of the Gifted Child. The one thing to read if you’re reading only one. Short, devastating, liberatory.

Excellent Sheephood:

David Brooks, “The Organization Kid,” “Making It: Love and success at America’s finest universities,” Bobos in Paradise, etc. I don’t agree with David Brooks politically, but he is one of our most acute observers of the upper middle class, both on campuses and elsewhere.

Marina Keegan, “Even Artichokes Have Doubts.” Widely circulated essay by the late Yale student.

Terry Castle, “The Case for Breaking Up with Your Parents.” Recent essay by Stanford professor.

Ross Douthat, Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class. A memoir of Harvard around the turn of the millennium.

Walter Kirn, Lost in the Meritocracy. A memoir of Princeton in the 1980s.

History of Elite College Admissions:

Jerome Karabel, The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

Nicholas Lemann, The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy.

The Pressure Cooker at Home and in School:

Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise an Adult. Terrific new book (2015) on helicopter parenting by former Stanford Dean of Freshmen.

Caitlin Flanagan, “Confessions of a Prep School College Counselor.

Race to Nowhere. Documentary film.

Terri Lobdell, excellent multipart series in Palo Alto Weekly, prompted in part by rash of teen suicides at Gunn High School.

Madeline Levine, The Price of Privilege. By an adolescent psychologist.

Denise Clark Pope, “Doing School”: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students.

Colleges and Universities:

Marty Nemko, “America’s Most Overrated Product: Higher Education.

Harry R. Lewis, Excellence Without a Soul. By a former Dean of Harvard College.

Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind. I don’t agree with Bloom politically (or culturally), but his 1987 diagnosis is, in many other ways, still relevant.

Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids. I don’t agree with everything they say, but they make a lot of good points.

Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.

What is College For?/Liberal Arts and Humanities:

Andrew Delbanco, College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be.

Mark Edmundson, Why Teach?: In Defense of a Real Education.

Earl Shoriss, “On the Uses of a Liberal Education: As a weapon in the hands of the restless poor

Finding Purpose:

Lara Galinsky with Kelly Nuxall, Work on Purpose.

William Damon, The Path to Purpose. By a developmental psychologist.

Economic Stratification at Elite Colleges:

Daniel Golden, The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges.

Mitchell L. Stevens, Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites.

Walter Benn Michaels, The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality

The Failure of the Meritocracy:

George Packer, “The Broken Contract: Inequality and American Decline.

Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy.

Michael Young, The Rise of the Meritocracy. The dystopian satire that coined that now-ubiquitous term.

Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano. Another 1950s dystopia on the same theme.