Wednesday, 30 November 2016

More Quotes about Boarding Schools

The dear old place

Send your child to a single-sex boarding school for a wonderful education and a lifetime of crippling social awkwardness.

Having served time at both Stonyhurst College and HMP Dartmoor, I can confirm that I was treated better at the latter institution. (A friend writes. He recalls cross-country runs in the dark every morning, followed by Mass. Cold showers, a tepid, shallow bath once a week, and daily beatings. This was the 50s – that Golden Age UKIP members want us all to go back to.)

Lol @ old Etonian criticising the left for “only talking to each other” and “not understanding the people.” #bbcqt
(Ellie Mae O’Hagan ‏@MissEllieMae)

Eton “teaches you charm, concealment of your true purpose, the ability to make people believe in you”. (writer Charles Cumming)

I used to write notes, says Giles Coren. That was how I passed exams and got into a good school. But “I did not have a single friend. And I had never met a girl. So I looked around me at the boys with friends and, more importantly, the ones with girlfriends. And when I started in the sixth form I made a few changes. I yanked down my tie and untucked my shirt. I threw away my briefcase... and swore never to take a note again... By the end of the first week, I had mates. By half-term, I had a girlfriend. By Christmas I had a hot girlfriend.” (Times 2015-10-03)

Maybe, if that’s what you’ve grown up with – no play, no chat, no flirting, no female friends, no girlfriends who will and girlfriends who won’t, no trips to the cinema, no gradual understanding of when a coffee is just a coffee, and when you ought to not go for that coffee, because “coffee might mean something more"... Forget Isis. Worry more about that.
(Hugo Rifkind on a programme about Muslims, Times 2015-10-03 But why does normal behaviour have to involve a strange code about coffee?)

Gabriella Wilde, Poldark star, went to boarding school, which she hated... “I went to quite a lot of schools. I was at Heathfield for three years. It’s a fun school but basically it’s a lot of girls who get bored and get up to no good. MY children will have different childhood; I don’t think they’ll go to boarding school. I think it’s a bizarre thing to do. I didn’t enjoy it and my husband hated it. It’s a strange way to grow up.”
Being sent away to board at Eton was as unhappy an experience as his parents’ death, the actor Dominic West has said. “It was the worst feeling I have ever had, very similar to the grief when my parents died. It’s the same thing really; you think you’ve lost your parents. (Times 2016-07-26)

Mike Tindall, former England rugby captain, told The Daily Mail: “I’m certainly not keen on sending Mia away to a boarding school at the other end of the country. I know many people who say boarding was the making of them because they forged great independence from their parents, but I don’t really want her to be distanced from us. My school was a public one and plenty of my mates lived in, but I was just a day student and it definitely didn’t do me any harm. If anything, I enjoyed the best of both worlds. Personally, I’d rather she attend a school that’s nearby, where we’ll always be on hand if she needs us. Anything else goes against my instincts.” ( 5 Jun 2016)    

Parental interest can compensate for a lack of financial power to some degree: the children of the most interested and involved parents on a low income may do ‘better’ than wealthy children whose parents are less interested. (LRB May 2016)

My years at public school here in England were the unhappiest of my life. I have never taken kindly to discipline; I hate to be forced to occupy myself with things which don’t interest me, and I hate all the cruder kinds of physical discomfort. The only time I was ever warm at school was in bed... and the food was foul. The English school system leaves boys quite incapable of dealing with women in later years. (Leslie Charteris/Bowyer-Yin)

Sending a seven-year-old to boarding school probably isn’t a good idea. People would tell me that schooldays are the best days of your life, and I used to live in horror that it was true. I was probably all sorts of things that they would diagnose now, but they didn’t do that in those days. I was just thick. (Anna Chancellor, T 2015-10-24)

I really believe that segregating children in single sex schools risks stunting their emotional and social development. (Richard Cairns, head of Brighton College, Times 2015)

A boy killed himself aged 21, after being bullied by a master at prep school. “[The master] became infatuated with some young boys while subjecting others to the misery of emotional bullying and humiliation.” Mother: “I had no idea that the place where we wouldn’t be able to keep him safe was an incredibly expensive private school. Parents and teachers need to be taught how fragile a child’s psyche can be.” The child kept telling his parents, and was obviously distressed. “Initially, we thought he was bringing this dislike upon himself by his silly behaviour.” The child was in a scholarship class “where academic success was paramount, but they sensed that poor pastoral care was viewed by some parents as a price worth paying. [His mother] remembers being told by one mother that you put up with [the school] in order to secure a place at St Paul’s.” The parents complained, and the school responded by nitpicking about procedure, and saying an investigation would be too much of an ordeal for the boy. (Times magazine 2015-10-11)

Readers under the age of 60 may not be fully aware that back in the 1960s, ‘being at boarding school’ didn’t necessarily mean that your parents were well-heeled as it does now. The world map was still coloured pink, and boarding school was a sort of gentle fostering service for the children of the army of sometimes quite lowly civil servants and military that were stationed in the outposts of the British empire. (

Self harm and depression are on the rise in private schools. Social media, exams, and the pressure to be beautiful are blamed (Times 2015 Oct 5 Not “sending children to live away from their family, friends, and community in a loveless institution”.)

More here, and links to the rest.

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