Educated - Cardiff And Oxford University Leader: Constitutional 'Monarchy Wales'
Leader: The Wales Campaign For Brexit
Robert Lowe, the Headmaster of Winchester College between 1825 and 1829, put it rather well when he said - if you believe in freedom, not only must you tolerate the inequality between children which is the result, but you must also teach children to just accept this inequality without envy and without resentment. What better way to do this than in the very structure of the education system itself. For the best and most innocuous way of doing this, which will cause the least bitterness and resentment, is to do it via a public school system. That way inequality and "unfairness" in life is accepted at an early age. It makes it seem almost natural, inevitable and even beneficial at a most impressionable and formative time. Imbuing a respect for and an understanding of inequality. If not a liking of it! This sense that inequality will be continuing just as it has done so in the past. An important life lesson taught. "You have to accept we are privileged," as one pupil at Winchester succinctly put it.
When I was growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s public schools were shrouded in mystery. The result of this was two fold. You were either left in a sort of awe about public schools and fascinated by their continuing existence (particularly their arcane rules, customs and traditions), or you had an irrational hatred of them based entirely on your own ignorance and pigheaded stupidity. Indeed when we debated abolishing public schools at my own school over 80% of those present voted to abolish them. Yet a recent opinion poll has found that, out of all those educated during the 1970s and 1980s, some 75% now support public schools.
Apparently rather than overthrow and destroy the public school system, my generation now seeks simply (and some might say quite meekly) to reinforce and entrench its advantages. Not only for our own children but for future generations of children also. The fact Eton, Harrow and Winchester continue to thrive says rather a lot about the British and their attitude towards the public school system. For they now support what they once hated, and now hate what they once supported. They now celebrate what they wanted to get rid of, and now despise what they once passionately defended.
It's a charity. It's grotesque. It's elitist.
The school is not elitist. Anyone can go there provided they have the raw intelligence and drive. So in a sense it is elitist - educational elitist. We should not close down public schools like Winchester. We should celebrate and praise them - and level up state schools instead.
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