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We can't all be brain surgeons?

Discussion in 'Independent' started by Richard Knights, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Some
    public schools don't make any apology or excuses for educating a
    wealthy elite, the results are there for all to see and you don't find
    many former pupils flipping burgers or cleaning the streets. As for
    education for the masses the philosopher Roger Scruton noted in 'The Meaning of Conservatism' (1980),

    'It
    is simply not possible to provide universal education. Nor, indeed, is
    it desirable for the appetite of learning points people only in a
    certain direction; it siphons them away from places, where they might
    have been contented.'

    Scruton
    believes that some jobs may require 'natural intelligence' but will not
    appeal to someone who has been 'flattered by the gift of education'.
    However, he does call for jobs in different 'walks of life' to be
    accorded 'dignity and recompense'. In other words people should receive
    an education that will prepare them for the job that is appropriate to
    their 'natural gifts'.

    In the nineteenth century the prevailing wisdom was that schooling should reflect the class structure. The Taunton Commission
    (1864) recommended schools for the elite to educate prime ministers,
    bishops, judges and generals; a middling group for clerks, teachers and
    officers; and finally the lowest schools for tradesmen, farmers and
    shopkeepers. The state would eventually educate the poor.

    Rather than establish 'inclusive' or comprehensive schools the 1944 Education Act
    perpetuated this divide with proposals for grammar, technical and
    secondary modern schools. It is interesting to note how some of the new
    academies have concentrated on vocational subjects (hairdressing,
    technology. Tourism) and steered away from academic subjects.

    The former head of Ofsted Chris Woodhead
    believes that some children are born 'not very bright' and that middle
    class children have superior genes, well educated parents produce
    academically able children.

    Even
    if there was any shred of evidence for genetic inheritance, the main
    characteristic of public schools derives not from intelligence but their
    social class. From the middle of the nineteenth century they
    deliberately excluded all but the sons of the upper classes.

    As the Honorary Secretary of Cheltenham College explained,
    'Had
    we admitted tradesmen in the first instance, we must have done so
    almost without limit, and in the confined circle of shops in Cheltenham,
    we should have had the sons of gentlemen shaking hands perhaps with
    school-fellows behind the counter and a fusion of ranks taking place
    from which the gentlemen of decided rank and property would derive less
    inconvenience, possible, than the clergymen of confined income or
    half-pay officers.'

    Social
    snobbery remains one of the main motivations for sending children to
    public schools, they will mix with the 'right type of children'. In the
    elite public schools there is a self-perpetuating oligarchy where son
    follows father at his alma mater and always into the same House,
    naturally.

    Rather
    than a meritocracy of talent the result of the public schools is the
    restriction of social mobility. Britain and America have the most
    unequal education systems and widest gaps in income among developed
    countries. The cost to society? In their book 'The Spirit Level',
    Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett noted that the more unequal a
    society the higher the levels of crime, mental illness, mistrust,
    illiteracy, obesity and anxiety.

    Social mobility? Take the medical profession, a report by the British Medical Association
    in 2008 found that 67% of medical students were privately educated as
    against 57% in 2004. Researchers noted that students were leaving with
    an average debt of £37,000 and that this was a significant factor in
    deterring poorer students from applying.

    Why
    are so many of the best jobs dominated by expensively educated public
    school children? Social networks or the 'Old School Tie' are an
    important factor. Evidence of this is predictably scanty, only on rare
    occasions does it surface. John Rae
    in 'The Old Boys Network – A Headmaster's Diaries 1970-1986' recounts
    on his time at the helm of the elite Westminster School. On December 16,
    1983 he confided,

    ''A'
    has failed to get into Magdalen College, Oxford, to read law. Mother
    and father want me to pull out all the stops to get him a place at
    another college... father has influential friends in politics, business
    and academia; he lists his contacts at Oxford and wants me to do the
    telephoning. 'Our Euro-MP has a brother-in-law who is Provost of Oriel,'
    is the sort of line. He also suggests that I approach Lord Dacre,
    Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, because he took a friend's boy last
    year who failed to make Oxford.'

    In
    subsequent entries he details how the boy's uncle, 'a prominent
    Magdalen man' rings the president of the college. The father lobbies Asa
    Briggs at Worcester and Robert Blake at Queens. Finally, this boy with
    three B's at 'A' level, is given a place at Christ Church, Oxford. Rae
    is forced to concede 'this saga illustrates the nature of inequality'.

    In
    recent times access to jobs in the media, politics and business comes
    through unpaid internships. In 2002 a survey by Journalism Training
    Forum showed that two-thirds of new entrants came from homes where the
    main wage-earner worked in a professional or senior managerial
    occupation. In 2006 the Sutton Trust found that of the country's 100 leading journalists over half were privately educated.

    The
    main gateway into Fleet Street used to be via apprenticeships at
    provincial newspapers, now journalists are recruited from post graduate
    courses. At London's City University over half of the journalism
    students came from four universities – Oxford, Bristol, Leeds and
    Cambridge. With fees and living costs students could expect to pay
    £20,000 in addition to their student debt. Even after qualifying many
    journalist are forced to work as unpaid internees.

    The
    influence historically of the public school educated elite? At the
    beginning of the twentieth century even some of the apologists admitted
    that England was singularly unprepared – the games cult,
    anti-intellectualism, the narrow curriculum, 'character' above
    intelligence and the stifling conformity. As E.C. Mack noted the public
    schools were 'mints for the coining of Empire builders.'

    Successive
    government commissions noted the alarming gaps between British and
    German technical and scientific education. A large section of the ruling
    class were the kind of effete drones so lovingly depicted by P.G. Wodehouse, where the necessity for work was relieved by handouts from dowager aunts.

    Correlli Barnett
    in 'The Collapse of British Power' noted how in 1942 Britain was within
    four months of complete bankruptcy and completely dependent on America
    for capital, raw materials, steel and armaments. The reason for the
    decline? The national character, exemplified by the politicians like
    Chamberlain, Simon, Halifax and Eden, the products of the public school
    system that was also the engine of uniformity, the obedience to
    authority, the crushing of originality and that created the upper
    classes – conventional, dull, self-satisfied and snobbish.

    In the 1980's Martin Wiener
    in 'English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit 1850-1980'
    noted the long history of public schools disdain for science,
    engineering and commerce. In the nineteenth century the industrial
    bourgeoisie separated themselves from,

    'sources
    of dynamism in existing society and striving to attach itself to an
    older way of life promoted a change in collective self-image from that
    of a still-young and innovative nation to one ancient and peculiarly
    stable.'

    This leads us now to the Coalition Government lead by Head Boy, Cameron (Eton) and Deputy Head Boy, Clegg (Westminster). As the Sunday Mirror
    noted due to the coalition cuts councils are closing leisure centres.
    Using aerial shots of Cabinet minster's houses/mansions it was evident
    that this wouldn't really affect them, out the back door were the
    swimming pools and tennis courts.

    The danger (for them) is that a remote, distant, aloof ruling class eventually loses all moral authority.
     
  2. Some
    public schools don't make any apology or excuses for educating a
    wealthy elite, the results are there for all to see and you don't find
    many former pupils flipping burgers or cleaning the streets. As for
    education for the masses the philosopher Roger Scruton noted in 'The Meaning of Conservatism' (1980),

    'It
    is simply not possible to provide universal education. Nor, indeed, is
    it desirable for the appetite of learning points people only in a
    certain direction; it siphons them away from places, where they might
    have been contented.'

    Scruton
    believes that some jobs may require 'natural intelligence' but will not
    appeal to someone who has been 'flattered by the gift of education'.
    However, he does call for jobs in different 'walks of life' to be
    accorded 'dignity and recompense'. In other words people should receive
    an education that will prepare them for the job that is appropriate to
    their 'natural gifts'.

    In the nineteenth century the prevailing wisdom was that schooling should reflect the class structure. The Taunton Commission
    (1864) recommended schools for the elite to educate prime ministers,
    bishops, judges and generals; a middling group for clerks, teachers and
    officers; and finally the lowest schools for tradesmen, farmers and
    shopkeepers. The state would eventually educate the poor.

    Rather than establish 'inclusive' or comprehensive schools the 1944 Education Act
    perpetuated this divide with proposals for grammar, technical and
    secondary modern schools. It is interesting to note how some of the new
    academies have concentrated on vocational subjects (hairdressing,
    technology. Tourism) and steered away from academic subjects.

    The former head of Ofsted Chris Woodhead
    believes that some children are born 'not very bright' and that middle
    class children have superior genes, well educated parents produce
    academically able children.

    Even
    if there was any shred of evidence for genetic inheritance, the main
    characteristic of public schools derives not from intelligence but their
    social class. From the middle of the nineteenth century they
    deliberately excluded all but the sons of the upper classes.

    As the Honorary Secretary of Cheltenham College explained,
    'Had
    we admitted tradesmen in the first instance, we must have done so
    almost without limit, and in the confined circle of shops in Cheltenham,
    we should have had the sons of gentlemen shaking hands perhaps with
    school-fellows behind the counter and a fusion of ranks taking place
    from which the gentlemen of decided rank and property would derive less
    inconvenience, possible, than the clergymen of confined income or
    half-pay officers.'

    Social
    snobbery remains one of the main motivations for sending children to
    public schools, they will mix with the 'right type of children'. In the
    elite public schools there is a self-perpetuating oligarchy where son
    follows father at his alma mater and always into the same House,
    naturally.

    Rather
    than a meritocracy of talent the result of the public schools is the
    restriction of social mobility. Britain and America have the most
    unequal education systems and widest gaps in income among developed
    countries. The cost to society? In their book 'The Spirit Level',
    Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett noted that the more unequal a
    society the higher the levels of crime, mental illness, mistrust,
    illiteracy, obesity and anxiety.

    Social mobility? Take the medical profession, a report by the British Medical Association
    in 2008 found that 67% of medical students were privately educated as
    against 57% in 2004. Researchers noted that students were leaving with
    an average debt of £37,000 and that this was a significant factor in
    deterring poorer students from applying.

    Why
    are so many of the best jobs dominated by expensively educated public
    school children? Social networks or the 'Old School Tie' are an
    important factor. Evidence of this is predictably scanty, only on rare
    occasions does it surface. John Rae
    in 'The Old Boys Network – A Headmaster's Diaries 1970-1986' recounts
    on his time at the helm of the elite Westminster School. On December 16,
    1983 he confided,

    ''A'
    has failed to get into Magdalen College, Oxford, to read law. Mother
    and father want me to pull out all the stops to get him a place at
    another college... father has influential friends in politics, business
    and academia; he lists his contacts at Oxford and wants me to do the
    telephoning. 'Our Euro-MP has a brother-in-law who is Provost of Oriel,'
    is the sort of line. He also suggests that I approach Lord Dacre,
    Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, because he took a friend's boy last
    year who failed to make Oxford.'

    In
    subsequent entries he details how the boy's uncle, 'a prominent
    Magdalen man' rings the president of the college. The father lobbies Asa
    Briggs at Worcester and Robert Blake at Queens. Finally, this boy with
    three B's at 'A' level, is given a place at Christ Church, Oxford. Rae
    is forced to concede 'this saga illustrates the nature of inequality'.

    In
    recent times access to jobs in the media, politics and business comes
    through unpaid internships. In 2002 a survey by Journalism Training
    Forum showed that two-thirds of new entrants came from homes where the
    main wage-earner worked in a professional or senior managerial
    occupation. In 2006 the Sutton Trust found that of the country's 100 leading journalists over half were privately educated.

    The
    main gateway into Fleet Street used to be via apprenticeships at
    provincial newspapers, now journalists are recruited from post graduate
    courses. At London's City University over half of the journalism
    students came from four universities – Oxford, Bristol, Leeds and
    Cambridge. With fees and living costs students could expect to pay
    £20,000 in addition to their student debt. Even after qualifying many
    journalist are forced to work as unpaid internees.

    The
    influence historically of the public school educated elite? At the
    beginning of the twentieth century even some of the apologists admitted
    that England was singularly unprepared – the games cult,
    anti-intellectualism, the narrow curriculum, 'character' above
    intelligence and the stifling conformity. As E.C. Mack noted the public
    schools were 'mints for the coining of Empire builders.'

    Successive
    government commissions noted the alarming gaps between British and
    German technical and scientific education. A large section of the ruling
    class were the kind of effete drones so lovingly depicted by P.G. Wodehouse, where the necessity for work was relieved by handouts from dowager aunts.

    Correlli Barnett
    in 'The Collapse of British Power' noted how in 1942 Britain was within
    four months of complete bankruptcy and completely dependent on America
    for capital, raw materials, steel and armaments. The reason for the
    decline? The national character, exemplified by the politicians like
    Chamberlain, Simon, Halifax and Eden, the products of the public school
    system that was also the engine of uniformity, the obedience to
    authority, the crushing of originality and that created the upper
    classes – conventional, dull, self-satisfied and snobbish.

    In the 1980's Martin Wiener
    in 'English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit 1850-1980'
    noted the long history of public schools disdain for science,
    engineering and commerce. In the nineteenth century the industrial
    bourgeoisie separated themselves from,

    'sources
    of dynamism in existing society and striving to attach itself to an
    older way of life promoted a change in collective self-image from that
    of a still-young and innovative nation to one ancient and peculiarly
    stable.'

    This leads us now to the Coalition Government lead by Head Boy, Cameron (Eton) and Deputy Head Boy, Clegg (Westminster). As the Sunday Mirror
    noted due to the coalition cuts councils are closing leisure centres.
    Using aerial shots of Cabinet minster's houses/mansions it was evident
    that this wouldn't really affect them, out the back door were the
    swimming pools and tennis courts.

    The danger (for them) is that a remote, distant, aloof ruling class eventually loses all moral authority.
     

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