Since Yale’s creation in 1701, its mission has been to produce the pre-eminent minds and leaders of our nation. If Yale has been successful at doing so, for decades — if not centuries — Yale has been churning out the best of the best. Additionally, as much as I enjoy scoffing at our rivals, I will just this once concede that other all other elite institutions have similar missions and that students graduating from those institutions are not so unlike us.
Count the Ivy League’s approximately 12,274 graduates as America’s “best and brightest” — surely a conservative estimate since it assumes there are no other redeeming students anywhere. Then that means that each year America sends 12,274 leaders and instigators of change into the world.
Bearing in mind that in the past decade alone we have sent 122,740 potentially world-altering men and women into every walk of life, I put forth this question: Why is the world still such a miserable place? Just look at the Wikipedia page giving a list of important Yale people! There are hundreds of names from every occupation (though the athletics list is a little thin). The past proves the perfection of the Yale education. We study here. We know it. We feel that we are being honed to leadership perfection and that we will leave this place primed to make a positive impact wherever we land. This is not in doubt.
So why is the world still full of misery? There is only one logical answer. We, the world’s leaders, are not at fault. We do our job the best it can be done and are always pure of heart. Then that leaves only one other population to blame: the world’s followers. A systematic study will show that at each and every juncture in recent history, leaders have made a move in the right direction only to be thwarted by mindless and feckless — but nonetheless numerous — followers running rogue in the name of undoubtedly quixotic self-initiative.
Once one recognizes this truth, the solution is obvious. At first glance it seems crazy, if not revolutionary, and even I had to read through the facts again to convince myself it was the logical conclusion, but it is clear to me, and hopefully now to you, that we need to train more followers.
I propose that instead of opening two new residential colleges, Yale should take the lead in progressive education and opening the first School of Followship. The School of Followship would have a curriculum following that of Yale College, only devoid of all elements of personal initiative and creative thought. That does not mean we want to produce robots; au contraire, we want to produce smart men and women who can recognize the truth when they hear it.
They must know economics so they can recognize the economic hogwash spewed from non Ivy-bred faux leaders. They must know how to write so that our bureaucracy is not bogged down by mentally stunted dolts. They must know the sciences so that the grunt work positions of our brilliant groundbreaking scientists can still be filled. The key is that they must know just the precise amount of these things to function as followers, but not enough to impede upon the leaders’ work with half-formulated thoughts and ill-expressed whining. This shall be the great contribution of the Yale School of Followship. It shall endeavor to be the first school to find that appropriate level of knowledge. It shall perfect the science of creating the perfect follower.
Think of the wonders every leader could achieve if she had but a few super-enhanced followers backing her. Think of the changes for good we will begin to see when the shouting voices of the rabble are drowned out in the chorus of the trained voices of our followers, echoing the words of their unerring leaders. These leaders come from the Ivies, and they will continue to do so. In 2009, Yale decided to act on the realization that its leaders are infallible and create the Jackson Institute, a program specifically to “prepare students for global … leadership.” So as Yalies, rightly so, continue to assume confidence in their own infallible leadership, it is in our interest — no, it is our duty — to the world we wish to change, that we act on this impulse’s natural complement.
Leaders are essential, but they are useless without good followers. In a way, it is completely irrational that our educational system should have ignored the development of followers to this point. Let us reverse this trend. Let us usher in a new era with the Yale School of Followship.