Many recent postings have mentioned a "gap" which people supposedly commit to attempting to close or narrow. There's a conflation of several meanings though, which makes it hard to wade through. There's the gap in privileges or access, to yachts or whatever (even many rich folk have little time to enjoy them), and there's the gap in ability or level of comprehension, skillfulness etc.
These two meanings of "gap" are quite orthogonal. A typical pattern and a subject of movie plots is the spoiled rich kid brat who inherits the company yet knows nothing of operations, versus the canny / savvy little guy like James Cagney or someone charming, all competence but not rich. Then you have the village idiot dolt of little means because of low acumen, but also the wiped out rich guy, down on his luck, lost his savings and now wasting away in Bangkok or someplace, a career gone.
So which gap are we trying to narrow? Given the division of labor and the economy it engenders, we're by capitalist ideology supposed to welcome the fact that we're of vastly different competencies and capabilities. Heaven forbid that we all be clones of one another: a grinding halt to the economy right there. We thrive on diversity and the fact that some people would prefer exploring volcanoes and deep sea diving, to remaining cooped up in some sky tower office writing back stabby memos. Takes all kinds.
As an aside, lets also look at the anthropology and talk about the role of the military, a sprawling network for schools and bases that provides young people with a means of advancement that's supposedly not as driven by the system of entitlements that gives aristocrats that special handicap or head start. There's supposedly a more level playing field. That's the press, the propaganda, not saying it's true.
One way the military has remained a source of patriotism in a democracy not originally designed to mount such a full time full sized beefy group in far flung regions, is it has successfully promulgated the myth that even a kid from the ghetto could rise to a position of respect and command. I think it's important to remind ourselves of such PR and not heap it all on the shoulders of civilian educators, this duty to ignore the notion of caste or entitled ethnicity.
Sure, go ahead and yak knowledgeably about Sunnis and Shiites as a distraction, because you know how to read TIME magazine, but if you live in the USA, you probably have other power imbalances to be more connected with. What's it like where you work? Does anyone get shunned? How many Somali's on your city council? How many Sikhs?
At OPDX, our temporary campus downtown, I think we had some really capable people. We had generators, entertainment, plenty of food. No, I didn't stay there, having my own digs nearby, but fellow faculty did. This may not have been the most wealthy of Global U campuses, more like a refugee camp in some ways, but we could see a glimmer of what high technology could do. People were twittering like crazy, connecting around the world, comparing notes. Town-gown relations got pretty interesting. Yet it's not like these were "rich kids" to have access to the city center in this way. Privileged though, yes, I would have to agree.
I accept bell curves myself. I'm at the top of the hump in some ways, on the left tail in others, on the right tail in still others. I'm about average in a lot of average ways, then deviate in some areas, which define my character / personality / achievements etc., call it my karma if you will (influences how I drive). I'm not different from anyone else in that sense. I have no motivation or desire to make everyone the same, so "closing the gap" in terms of making us more uniform is not really on my agenda.
Other gaps though, I'd like to close more. People should not be going hungry in metro areas that commit huge amount of food to compost and landfill because they can't figure out how to wire it differently. To me, the STEM curriculum measures its success in terms of approaching these problems with a design science sensibility and inventing new responses. That's why my basement is full of food at the moment, parked there yesterday by bike trailer crews, to be retrieved Monday and cooked and/or distributed. This is called "solving a story problem with math" (yes, lots of math in this picture).