Levine argues that parents, especially affluent ones, tend to overprotect their children from adversity: witness those who call the principal to complain about teachers who’ve given their kids low grades. These children are almost certain, as young adults, to have a difficult time with demanding bosses. The nonstop culture of entertainment and consumerism, in which parents themselves are often steeped, further contributes to later disillusionment.
Levine also argues that good students aren’t always prepared for life.
In school, these kids were often lauded for being well-rounded, but they now have difficulty committing to the “deep and narrow grooves of adult work life,” Levine writes. Once accustomed to the cheering of teachers, coaches, and peers, they also have a hard time adapting to the indifference of employers and coworkers.
Top students, of course, tend to be those who do the best job of conforming to the many social and academic demands made of them in high school. But as Levine points out, those striving to move up the career ladder are expected to be industrious self-starters, generating original ideas rather than merely implementing the agendas of others.
I’m dubious about this last point. Industrious self-starters are more likely to be found among those who were industrious in school. Generating original ideas, which isn’t required in most entry-level jobs, is not more common among C students than A students.