The Price of Privilege: “I want to be a V.C.!”

5-300x450I recently heard psychologist Madeline Levine give the keynote address at the Biennial conference for the National Association of Episcopal Schools. Her book, The Price of Privilege, has received praise from many educators, and so I was curious to hear her talk. I have not read her book, so I will not try to capture its essence here, but I thought instead I would share a few interesting tidbits. I’ll spread it our over a few posts.

One of her 8-year-old patients had an interesting response to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The little boy said, “I want to be a V.C.”

The boy had no idea what a venture capitalist does, but he knew they make a lot of money. What was even more interesting was his explanation for what he needs to do to achieve his goal. Remember this is an 8 year old… I am paraphrasing:

I need to go to an independent school (he named a specific independent school). Then I need to go to Stanford. Then I’ll get an internship at Goldman Sachs. Then I’ll go to Harvard for my MBA. Then I’ll work at Bain for a few years, and then I’ll be a V.C.

Her point was that this is obviously coming from the parents. The crowd got the point that this was a problem but still gave it a good chuckle. I even heard someone in the audience say, “Sounds like a good plan. That’ll probably work.”

From her website: “In this controversial look at privileged families, Levine offers thoughtful, practical advice as she explodes one child-rearing myth after another. With empathy and candor, she identifies parenting practices that are toxic to healthy self-development and that have contributed to epidemic levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in the most unlikely place — the affluent family.”


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