University policies that filter out middle classes
Monday, April 02, 2007
Link: University policies that filter out middle classes | Uk News | News | Telegraph.
Little did we think when we decided to send our children to a private school that we would be subjecting them to Cultural Revolution-type selection under which they would be punished for being "cosmopolitan elements" rather than "good proletarians."
The joke, in our case, is that both parents are "good" proletarians (as if such nonsense matters). We were the first members of our respective working-class families to go to university. So we could have saved ourselves the biggest single expenditure of our lives, sent them to the local comp and watched them waltz (given their native talents) into Oxbridge on the basis of their exemplary class origins.
That would not have affected our decision. A good education is not a merit badge or a step to some career; it is an important end in itself. We know from direct, bitter experience that it could not have been guaranteed at the sort of State schools my wife and I attended (and in which she later had the misfortune to teach).
As it turns out, an additional benefit of educating them privately is that they can now learn about the all-important role of victim status in British society. Such status may sometimes (as in this example) provide short-term benefits. However, the moral debilitation involved in laying claim to it will always outweigh the advantages. The debased British educational Establishment is now unwittingly offering my children this lesson.
Frankly, I am more concerned at present about the Principal of their school. At a meeting for Lower Sixth parents' last weekend she managed to make the two following statements, within seconds of each other, without apparent embarrassment;
"Despite what you read in the papers there is no discrimination. However, it is true that your children may face more demanding entry requirements."
Logically, only one of these statements can be true. It seems she has learned doublethink, a key skill in British education.
From statistics provided by her assistant, it seems the school maintains a higher than average success rate in obtaining offers from all universities except Edinburgh, which now openly discriminates on ethnic grounds. Presumably, if it were not for less demanding entry requirements for State school pupils, that rate would be even higher. Our children will find themselves at University alongside students who did not (by the standards applied to them) deserve their places. Yet another free lesson in life from the British State.
Recruitement to universities on a social, rather than academic, basis must inevitably debase the educational currency.
Sorry if I was a little peremptory. Anyway, I was amused a couple of years ago to see the Discrimination rules of Bristol and Edinburgh published. The only big difference was that the Edinburgh rules included a remark favouring local applicants. I guffawed: it's not racism, it's the Edinburgh dons looking after their own chidren. They're a smarter bunch, perhaps, than the Bristol dons.
Posted by: dearieme | Tuesday, April 03, 2007 at 06:38 PM
Like you I invested heavily in both of my son’s education, it was my largest investment. One is at University in Newcastle after a change of Course; the other is rapidly approaching GCSE’s.
I come from what I describe as coming from a solid working class stock, where education was valued to the extent that books were always in the house, but the aspiration was to get off the shop floor and into a ‘safe’ job like being a bank clerk.
Despite a lot of family opposition, I worked my way through to get two fairly decent degrees, which gave me the confidence to set up and run a number of businesses in the UK and France.
The decision to go private was mine alone because I valued education for its own sake.
Having made that decision there are a number of issues that have always bugged me, considering I was the ‘customer’.
Having to pay twice for my boy’s education, once through my taxes and again out of my net income. The Swedish system of giving a voucher would have made my life a lot easier financially. It would have also extended opportunity to ‘working class’ kids, rather than the shambolic one size fits all system we have.
There were clearly a lot of well heeled duffers at the various schools they attended, whose only qualification was how much money there parents had to spend. Clearly money was providing an entry rather than the desire to learn and natural ability. Again a voucher system would have allowed schools to select (I know this is a foul word in this day and age) from the brightest and best. Rather than who could make the biggest contribution to the school’s overheads.
The staff at some of these schools were what could only be described as unworldly, primary school, secondry, University back into schools. The large majority had no concept of life in the real world, and therefore had some very strange ideas on what made the world tick. How can people such as this be called ‘teachers’ in the truest word? They were very prone to the latest fad in ‘education’.
I was also never happy with the system were the public schools came trawling round prep schools for custom, they certainly never came trawling round my Grammar school.
Clearly Education has become a mess, and I was recently being enticed into a career change as a teacher of History. Clearly I was not suitable despite two degrees, having had two children and thirty years experience in the outside world. A twenty four year old who thought the correct way, was of far more value. Teaching is very politicised, I could not subscribe to what ‘laughingly’ passes for the teaching of History and to the push to get fifty per cent of the population to go to University- Why ? This was clearly a dumbing down of standards. Education by its very definition requires you to attain a certain level of achievement. If you cannot achieve that standard, you must either accept that you have failed, or better still try again. Tinkering with attainment on the grounds of government targets of heads of population, ethnicity and class is just going to wreck the credibility of an English Degree.
Above all my belief is that everybody regardless of every other life factor ought to have the opportunity to excel in academia or in technical universities. This equality of opportunity will only come about with a voucher system for every child. If a parent wishes to top up that voucher and place a greater value on education, they should be free to without risking penury. However standards must be imposed that no matter how much money you have or do not have, if you fail to reach that standard you fail. Success and failure are part of life. A degree as a right is plainly a nonsensical concept.
Yet still the Government wants to review schools charitable status, if they do not agree to these arbitrary ‘norms’ of positive discrimination. There has always been an anti-intellectual thread running through our society. Why educate yourself when in terms of a career you can aspire to be a’celebrity’. We need more thinkers, not more people who just accept.
Posted by: GUTHRUM | Tuesday, April 03, 2007 at 09:57 AM
And the experience of being subjected to the "interpreted reality" of Nu-Lab social engineering on the way to uni will help them survive the onslaught of academically juvenile "correct thought" they are presented with and required to regurgitate once they get there. The latter being more cause of Nu-Lab mendacity than the result, I suspect.
Posted by: Surreptitious Evil | Tuesday, April 03, 2007 at 08:27 AM
Deariemie, you are right. I shouldn't post when exhausted after more than 24 hours' continuous travelling. The current Shanghai Jao Tong University international ranking (in which Cambridge is no. 2) is at www.universitymetrics.com. My apologies. I have edited the post accordingly.
Posted by: Tom | Monday, April 02, 2007 at 10:57 PM
Wrong league table: use the Chinese one.
Posted by: dearieme | Monday, April 02, 2007 at 10:40 PM
...It seems she has learned doublethink, a key skill in British education...
Doublethink 101 and Doublespeak 132 - essential skills for the British pollie today.
Posted by: jameshigham | Monday, April 02, 2007 at 07:37 PM