Monday, February 26, 2007

[state and private] good old fashioned stoush

In an astounding outburst, in case anyone else like me missed it, the econo-blogger supreme, Chris Dillow, whom I still count as a friend, posted this some days back:

Thirdly, it's not chippiness we feel towards public school kids, but contempt. I, and I hope Clive, are quite happy with the way our lives have turned out. We don't envy Etonians. Quite the opposite. It's pitiful that such people have had so much money spent on their education and yet have (with a few exceptions) turned into no-marks. Some, I've heard, are so imbecilic that they couldn't even get into Oxford.

To that, the following responses were made, among others:

"Wow - you've got it bad. That was pathetic." Posted by: Praguetory and "Wow, Praguetory, is there any reasonable and discursive blog anywhere that you will not sully with a nasty insult?" Posted by: Katherine

Then Devil's Kitchen weighed in:

The reason that I respect Chris is that he writes about what he knows, i.e. money and general economic theory, but in this case, I am afraid, he not only displays a woeful ignorance of public schools and their ethos but also a massive chip on his shoulder. In fact, the only thing that I can hope for is that he is writing with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

The fact is that when there are seven boys competing for each place, as there were when I attended Eton, one tends to find that the entry exams are quite tricky (and the more people there are going for a place, the higher the required mark). So, whilst I have known Etonians who are hardly worldly-wise, few of them are actually "imbecilic".

Chris, I don't blog about my school as I'm trying to maintain this nourishing obscurity thing but I don't see why I should apologize that my parents scrimped and saved to get me in and that I had quite an adequate education. I certainly don't feel imbecilic but that's for you to judge.

Chris Dillow has replied and it's a pity the content of e-mails can't be posted. It was a good reply.


Praguetory said...

For a variety of reasons, my younger brother ended up at a private school and again for eclectic reasons maybe 60% of the people in my university hall were from private schools. When my bro arrived at private school they said that he was two years behind where he should be - and put it right. He went on to great academic success culminating in a double first from Oxford scoring the best mark in the year in certain papers. But most importantly, he developed a love for learning that I didn't get from my state education - and that I attribute to his excellent private schooling. Obviously he could have walked into a City job, but instead followed a less lucrative career path. Similarly, with my privately educated uni mates I perceived that they had developed better self-discipline from their private schooling. I thought the question Chris asked his colleague was offensive (unless sign-posted as a joke) and his post was lazy and thoughtless. Frankly, I don't know what motivated him to post it.

ThunderDragon said...

Why should where anyone went to school make the slightest bit of difference? What people do now is far more important then where they went to school, private or state.

Ellee said...

I missed it too, thanks for brining us up to date. It's still parenting, rather than schooling, that I believe is the main influence in a child's life - but education comes second in my book.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Very interesting. I'm against private schools in principle, believing that the parents with influence and knowledge should be trying to make the atate system better. But I can see that some UK state schools are so awful now that if you have the money, then are you going to sacrifice your child for your principles? Probably not. My father went to a private school and hated it, finding the rules petty and the masters quite cruel, in some cases. Many years later, he would shiver as he passed the place but would always admit that it had taught him self confidence. But that was a long time ago!

CityUnslicker said...

so you are another from the other place JH.

I am surrounded.

On the wider issue; the simple answer is to make all schools private schools and not vice versa. After all, which system has been proven to work over 3 centuries?