Monday 8 December 2014

The Best Days of Your Life

Convinced that "posh people" have perfect lives? Thinking of sending your child away from home to get the "best education money can buy"? Think again.

I burst into tears.
It was like something out of Charles Dickens. (Nicholas Parsons on arriving at prep school aged 7)

Everybody I've ever met who attended a private school has been a superlatively trained con artist/psychopath. (@sredniivashtaar)

Home schoolers and the Christian equivalent of madrassas cut off children from outside sources of information... When they grow older and leave such a sheltered environment, adjusting to the secular world can be like immigrating to a new culture. One of the biggest areas of challenge is delayed social development. (

Tom Parker-Bowles told how his mother regretted sending him away to board so young. After [his daughter]'s seventh birthday earlier this month, he said to his mother: 'You sent me away eight months after this.' He continued: 'My mother was slightly appalled, saying she'd never do it again, but it was the thing you did, you know.' (Daily Mail He sends his children to day schools.)

Parents send their children to boarding school so that they will become instant adults without having had a childhood. (AM)

At university he had to say he went to a small school near Slough so that he wouldn't be discriminated against. (via AF)

If the public schools were so good at improving their pupils, the Cabinet would be full of geniuses. It's not. (Danny Baker)

Like all dysfunctional institutions, from boarding schools to prisons, Westminster appears to have normalised codes of behaviour that elsewhere would mark their practitioners as weirdos. (Marina Hyde Guardian April 2014)

When I was nine I was sent to boarding school, which I despised. The first five years were hideous because I wanted to be at home. I guess I resented my parents a little and it put tons of distance between us. One of the things I took from boarding school is that it made me emotionally self-sufficient. We never sit down as a family and say “Are you OK?”, “By the way I love you.” No thanks. That suits me, but I can see it’s not for everybody. (Al Murray G May 2014)

Our job is not to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. Our job is to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless. (LR Knost)

Many people tell me they [visit Eton] and their prejudices are shot to pieces because they see people who are rounded and just incredibly accomplished and bright and hungry. ( millionaire and public schoolboy Brent Hoberman, The Times 22 March 2014)

Choice is considered a dirty word by many educationalists, but parents – weirdly enough – are actually quite keen to push their children into better schools. This site helps them beat the system. (The Daily Telegraph, Aug 2010)

The middle classes outsource everything – even parenting. (Caitlin Moran, paraphrase, Times June 2014)

In the late 18th century, public schoolboys stole ducks, rode home for the holidays (on the stage coach) lashing pedestrians with whips, and throwing stones to break windows. “In 1818, a wave of lawlessness and rioting spread from one public school to another…” "Gentlemanly families ceased to send their sons to public school..." (Muriel Jaeger, Before Victoria, demonstrating how corporal punishment and deprivation make children behave.)

We were surnames and numbers in a quasi-military bureaucracy and we were often made to feel as if we were infuriating hindrances to its smooth running... We were woken in darkness by the clanging of a bell. We had 20 minutes to wash and dress and be on parade on the asphalt outside for roll-call. Then, to barked orders from a duty monitor, we marched in ranks of four, military fashion and still in darkness, the quarter-mile to the dining hall for breakfast… Square-bashing before sunrise – later it would seem ludicrous, yet we also marched to lunch, to the accompaniment of the school brass band – twirling maces and oompah brass – as if every day were a passing-out parade at Sandhurst. (Nigel Richardson, Breakfast in Brighton A former child soldier in Sudan was interviewed on BBC Breakfast. He said that at 11 they were expected to be adults, they were shown horrible sights, and never got enough sleep. Which is also how you brainwash new cult members...)

"School places these days — I mean, it’s a bloody lottery, isn’t it?” That’s what well-heeled parents like to say to underline the awful powerlessness they feel, as their best efforts on behalf of their children are thwarted...  Here, “lottery” is being used metaphorically, in the sense of “not very like a lottery at all”. It means “a situation over which we can use money to exert almost complete but not, infuriatingly, absolute control”. (Sam Leith ES 2014-02-24)

“It is almost a truism that [prep schools] – and the public schools which they fed – were and are instruments of social indoctrination. Here are little microcosms of the sort of authoritarian and hierarchical society that their products were expected to go on and govern… Eton’s forms and hierarchies were easily internalised… I have a craven teacher-pleasing tendency: a deference to authority and a desire to excel within parameters established by others rather than to challenge those parameters. I am a more conventional – sometimes timid – thinker than I would like.” Old Etonian Sam Leith goes on to say that the present government seems to be a continuation of private school by other means. But, he says, the other effect of private schools is that some alumni react by becoming “anti-establishment rebels”. They are “oppressive dictatorships in miniature”, says Francis Wheen, who left voluntarily at 16. (G 2014-02-09)

You have to become autonomous much too soon. (TF)

The following quotes are from Nick Duffell's The Making of Them:

Boarding children, despite their prestigious schools, have to grow up amongst their peers and never really come home again.

It is easy to pretend that the serious bullying only went on in Tom Brown’s day; unfortunately, this is not the case. To those who maintain that the schools have changed out of all recognition in the last 20 years, I would say that possibly the worst excesses may be in the past. Some schools now have radiators and carpets.

The girl’s way is to undermine by verbal abuse and to withdraw... affection, approval... privacy, free time... The insidious thing about the treatment at girls’ schools is that it all comes over as normal and respectable.

Many of my generation will remember how difficult it was to openly want anything.

Physical size and cutting wit... could make you more popular and more safe.

Normalised parental neglect
... they must speedily reinvent themselves as self-reliant pseudo-adults.

Bullying pervades British society, especially in politics and the media, but, like boarding, we normalise it...

Boarding is worth billions and has a massive lobby.

Socially condoned abandonment. (Amazon commenter) 

I left home for school over 30 years ago and haven't had a real home since. (Amazon commenter)

More about education here.

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