What Do Posh Schools Teach Their Kids?

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There is a perennial debate that goes on in education circles about what education is for, is it about education for its own sake or is it about creating a workforce? Is it about teaching the best that has been thought and said or is this impossible to ascertain because certain knowledge has been privileged by class, gender, sexuality and colonial discourses in the past and therefore it has distorted our ability to see quality beyond its relationship to power? I think that this is a debate worth having. In a piece in the Times this week Dominic Maxwell suggested that a boy at Eton would see over thirty plays a year performed by his peers. Was old Etonian Eddie Redmaye a product of an elite education that enabled him to be one of the best actors in his generation?

  • What is the elite, do we have an elite, should we have an elite?
  • Does the elite use knowledge, skills and practices which can exclude others allowing it to retain an aura of cultural superiority?
  • Is some knowledge elitist or intrinsically middle/upper class or is it just given that tag by being valued by the elite?
  • Are the elite educated in a way that contributes to them and their families continuing to be the elite?
  • If they are, is the ‘elite’ method of education worth teaching to everyone?
  • If we teach it to everyone what effect would that have on the elite and on everyone else, in other words ‘will we all be members of ‘the elite” (sic)?
  • All of which needs to be framed by another question: does education reflect or shape society?

Cultural and social capital are interesting ideas and in societies, where class divisions are marked, differences can be seen easily. Do these differences have value, are some practices and products inherently superior to others or are they given the kudos of ‘high culture’ because they have been co-opted by a certain class? In Culture and Anarchy Matthew Arnold awarded the aristocratic class the nomenclature: ‘barbarians’, the middle class he called: ‘philistines’ and the working class: ‘populace’. All three classes, Arnold suggested, were marked by their bathos, an inability to respond to judgement, facts and taste. Culture, if you will. This then becomes the reason to teach the best that has been thought and said, and to introduce sweetness and light allowing people to become their ‘best selves’. An idea of all of us trying to become our ‘best selves’ is an interesting one and perhaps education has a role to play in this? Becoming our best self is different to ‘social mobility’, to be mobile socially we might have to adopt the cultural practices of the class we wish to become. Being our best self might mean celebrating the class from which we are a part at its very best, or might it mean valuing culture beyond its class baggage and seeing it and enjoying it on its own terms, the beautiful, the difficult and the sublime. This baggage is not just about cultural product, it also encompasses behaviour, an idea of what a life well lived might encompass, and an intrinsic knowledge about what is valuable.

What is the most valuable education we can give our kids and is this the education they get in the ‘poshest’ schools? In order to explore this I would like to take an American perspective:

After teaching for thirty years in New York state schools John Taylor Gatto resigned and has since dedicated his time to writing about and talking about education. His bestselling book ‘Dumbing us Down‘ is an excoriating attack on public (i.e. state) schools. In the book he writes that these schools confuse children, make them accept their ‘class’, make them indifferent, encourage emotional and intellectual dependency, have a need for constant affirmation by experts, and accept they can never hide from surveillance. Politically Gatto is a libertarian and appeals to people of right and left in varying degrees, his work is interesting, challenging, maddening, bonkers and thoughtful in equal measure. One piece of work of his I particularly like is his survey of the elite boarding schools in America. What is in their DNA, what is it that they do that is not done in American public schools? Gatto says there are fourteen themes that are “universal” in these schools and whether he is right or wrong about this I do not know. However, this might be an interesting conversation to have in the context of our ‘elite’ schools either private or state, but I doubt it. More interesting would be a conversation about whether we should be teaching these things or some of these things and what else could we add to the list. Gatto’s fourteen themes are:

  1. A theory of human nature (as embodied in history, philosophy, theology, literature and law). He believes these schools teach a wealth of information on humanity, now and in the past in order to inform the future.
  2. Skill in the active literacies (writing, public speaking). Write and speak well. Rhetoric. He says this communicating well is not a God given gift and can be easily taught through regular opportunities to speak in front of strangers and constant practice by writing every day. He thinks these skills will be picked up by doing and that expert intervention can come at some point later.
  3. Insight into the major institutional forms (courts, corporations, military, education). The ideas that drive them, with the crucial insight that argument is the way to truth and dissent is central to our way of life.
  4. Repeated exercises in the forms of good manners and politeness; based on the truth that politeness and civility are the foundation of all future relationships, all future alliances, and access to places that you might want to go. Not just common sense, as he has been in many ‘public’ schools where coarseness is an everyday part of the experience.
  5. Independent work: Child does more on their own than directed by the teacher. Gatto puts a, probably random, ratio to this: 80%-20% independent work vs teacher directed work. I think we need to be aware that this ‘independent’ work is carried out within the institution of a boarding school.
  6. Energetic physical sports are not a luxury, or a way to “blow off steam,” but they are absolutely the only way to confer grace on the human presence.
  7. A complete theory of access to any place and any person. Get your kids to do this, he says, get them to think they can and work out how to access people and places they need to or want to.
  8. Responsibility as an utterly essential part of the curriculum; always to grab responsibility when it is offered and always to deliver more than is asked for. Washing dishes, care for a horse, do community service, leadership in clubs,
  9. Check regularly: Arrival at a personal code of standards (in production, behaviour and morality).
  10. To have a familiarity with, and to be at ease with, the fine arts. (cultural capital) High culture, the best that has been thought and said and done. Transcending the animal materiality of our lives.
  11. The power of accurate observation and recording. For example, sharpen the perception by being able to draw accurately. The British upper classes used to think if you couldn’t draw something accurately you didn’t perceive it properly
  12. His favourite: The ability to deal with challenges of all sorts. Are we natural cowards until we have challenges, get knocked down and stand up again.
  13. A habit of caution in reasoning to conclusions. Scepticism.
  14. Constant development and testing of judgements, with follow ups so that you can discriminate value and keep an eye on your predictions to see how far skewed, or how consistent, your predictions were.

Is there any element of truth in this I wonder? If there is, does it equate to the education context in the UK? What should we do about it? Or if class is purely a function of economics do we allow the philistines and barbarians to dominate the cultural landscape, giving value to art purely in financial terms and allow them to feed the populace cheaper ‘mass’ entertainment whilst all bypass taste because either it doesn’t exist or because we are all so badly educated that we have no idea what it is?

I’m just throwing out the questions…

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17 thoughts on “What Do Posh Schools Teach Their Kids?

  1. mmiweb

    Thanks for this piece, I agree this is a debate worth having.

    Gatto is an interesting figure – not least because one his claims is that he “learning nothing from school” (though he then went on tot be a celebrated teacher) and is a supporter of the home school movement and follows on in the tradition of writers such as Holt.

    The list is interesting and fits well into this idea of ‘cultural capital’ and the things that are deemed to be good. In your piece you also touch on this when you talk of the ‘best that has been thought and said’. There are few, I think that would not want to make children aware of the wider world beyond their immediate horizons but the debate I think we also need to have is ‘what is this best’ and ‘who decides’. So we need a debate on the questions of best (e.g. not a simplistic approach to the learning of history which seemed to be drawn from Flander and Swann’s “The English, the English, the English are best,/ I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest” not recognising the satire – perhaps I am supporting No13!

    No 12 (the favourite) is being considered as the work of Duckworthy and Dweck indicate but talk about the importance of trying again is rather closed down by an education minister who talks about the ‘disgrace of repeated attempts at examinations’ and reforms a system to a ‘one shot final exam which also rather challenges the possibility of No14 in the list.

    If we are to adopt some of these – and it is useful to start such a debate we would also have to think about the ways we assess and thus reward – and a wider and more embracing recognition of merit over and above the reductionist view of the current legislation.

    Those who attend the public schools are not representative of the nation as a whole and their own life experiences before they enter these ‘hallowed halls’ which may of course also include Winchester and Rubgy (Arnold’s schools) are very different to many of those who do not attend and also you have ignored the possibilities that the economics offer for these schools.

    I would like to argue not that we look at the curriculum that has been tailored for a privileged few but to ask wider social questions about equality and opportunity. As Pasi Sahlberg says you cannot tackle questions of educational inequality until you have tackled questions of social and economic inequity.

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    1. Martin Robinson Post author

      Hi mmiweb,

      I think the best is decided by tradition, discussion, argument, opinion, and in the realm of the school must, in the first instance, be in the realm of the teacher to decide.

      No. 12, the school of hard knocks? Or, maybe, less about hard knocks which is something many kids know about, but more to do with helping people deal with the knocks and wrong choices and sheer bad luck. Counselling rather than worrying about how many times to sit an exam?

      Do we have to think about how we assess and reward? I don’t know about whether that would be so reductive as to ruin any impact that might otherwise be had.

      I do not ignore the economic offer, would more money for state schools solve it?

      As I ask, do schools shape or reflect society?

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      1. mmiweb

        I agree with your rationale for the ‘best’ but fear that we are locked into a system at the moment that is more about looking backwards as well as forwards. Also there is a danger that in teaching the best of what has been we do not consider well enough that which is coming – and be challenged by the ways in which technology (of all sorts) and specialisation changes this debate. I also wonder if we could be very brave and engage the children in this discussion as well.

        My point about the exams is the mixed messages if we are keen to talk about resilience as a key learning aspect we must reflect this in the ways that we organise schools so “do as I do” rather than “so as I say”.

        Yes we do have to think about the ways that we reward – for example the eBacc has made very strong statements that certain areas of knowledge and learning and superior to others – and this is also judged by the inspection system. Also by thinking about this we may also change the idea of impact and they ways in which we measure that. I would argue that the current obsession with examinations (and only certain areas of this) has been highly reductionist.

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  2. J

    I attended state schools, a private independent boarding school, an FE, and university. Gatto’s themes resonate with my private school and university experience. They also reflect my partner’s at a grammar school and university.

    To understand elites and the current education system I think the historical context needs to be provided, i.e. the influence of the Church, and Universities, Empire, Victorian Values, and the intention to create an educated religious/military/administration ruling class (elite) for the world (church/independent/grammar schools, and secondary schools).

    Gatto’s list of themes [through my view of preparing the ruling elite]:
    Understanding humanity [workforce, politics, inform desired qualities below]
    Active literacies [communication, admin, law, diplomacy, etc]
    Wider understanding of society through its institutions [societal rule]
    Good manners
    Independent work
    Physical education [fitness, teamwork, social]
    Access [extent of networking, working system depends on school]
    Responsibility
    Personal Code of Conduct [integrity]
    Access to cultural capital [originally pupil entertainment, i.e. skits, music]
    Observation and recording
    Resilience
    Reasoning/Scepticism
    Good judgement

    The end of Empire should not prevent us wanting to turn out a citizenship of educated, well mannered human beings. The system educates children for 14years. Strengthening their minds and bodies without developing the qualities and knowledge to develop a moral compass seems curious.

    I like the focus on being our best rather than socially mobile. Valuing who we are, and what we do well and contribute to society.

    Even if we refocus on being our best, social groupings on cultural/value lines are inevitable and what we need to develop is tolerance amongst groups.

    I am comfortable that my children are expected to work hard and independently, act with integrity, exercise good manners and judgement, develop resilience, take care of themselves, be considerate, develop tolerance and understanding (yes, they make mistakes, and learn from them).

    I am frustrated their primary school experience has undermined our values and actions; on evenings, weekends and holidays we re-affirm the higher standard we expect (tough for them amongst their peers).

    Is that down to class*, private school, a childhood in the military, or my own personality. Difficult to ascertain. I simply know that I want my children to do their best mentally, physically, emotionally, and morally – and the latter requires an understanding of history and philosophy to avoid it being used to justify intolerance.

    *A study released last year looked at class based on our adult identity determined through our work, cultural norms, income, etc. Based on that I was upper middle class (whatever my class I am comfortable with who I am).

    Perceptions of parents’ class interestingly seems to influence the teacher-parent relationship and expectations for the child.

    To answer your questions:

    What is the elite, do we have an elite, should we have an elite?
    Are the elite those who have higher abilities and determination, and/or money, position, power, access (perceived, naturally, or through self-discipline); yes; human nature to have hierarchies?

    Does the elite use knowledge, skills and practices which can exclude others allowing it to retain an aura of cultural superiority? Yes, different groups have different ettiquette, language, values, vocations, and often income.

    Is some knowledge elitist or intrinsically middle/upper class or is it just given that tag by being valued by the elite? Or rejected by the non-elite. Remember inverse snobbery exists by those who reject knowledge because they genuinely don’t value it in what they do. I recently had a conversation with a father who is a mechanic whose daughter transferred to a private school for sixth form because she was not being challenged enough at a good enough state school. His view was that this would mean she could do anything she wants and not have to do tedious stuff. It’s an interesting notion that professionals/middle class/elites work better hours, only do interesting things in their job. Wonder how Carol Middleton would respond.

    Are the elite educated in a way that contributes to them and their families continuing to be the elite? There are always exceptions, but yes, in the main, I think that Victorian belief that you cannot fail the family’s standing is still strong.

    If they are, is the ‘elite’ method of education worth teaching to everyone?
    If class* is now determined in our adulthood then surely we should all have opportunity to find our natural groups and become the best that we can be (potential is realised through actions, it needs to embedded in high expectations for the 14yrs of education).

    If we teach it to everyone what effect would that have on the elite and on everyone else, in other words ‘will we all be members of ‘the elite” (sic)?
    Group mentality, hierarchy and power plays seem to be natural. Seems unlikely? Not everybody wants the same social group, professional responsibilities, takes the same risks, etc.

    All of which needs to be framed by another question: does education reflect or shape society?
    It can do both; hence ideological battles over education are so personal to those involved. We all think we have the answer. In reality we are not creating an education system for one group of teachers/children but for all (unless postcode and fees are no longer a factor). Education needs more tolerance, and I genuinely mean responsibility and rights being embedded for all towards a common good.

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    1. Martin Robinson Post author

      Hi J,

      Should we educate all in a democracy with the idea that they are born to rule or at least have responsibility as to how we are ruled?

      Do you think the moral compass is missing from much education?

      What is your view on social mobility or even an aim of a classless society… Or a meritocratic society?

      In what way is the primary experience of your kids undermining the standards you expect?

      How much is the child the responsibility of its parents? And the family? What if the family or the family circumstance is damaging ?

      I am interested in the ‘common good’, what do you envisage this might be?

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      1. J

        Should we educate all in a democracy with the idea that they are born to rule
        Not everyone is ‘born to rule’: personality, character, work ethic, ability, specialisms, stamina (not class). Educate individuals to ‘serve society’ in the role they feel best suited to (no limits).

        or at least have responsibility as to how we are ruled?
        UK citizens are not legally required to vote. Educate everyone on the British democratic process, the individual’s role, how to access information and be informed (we can’t mandate this). The UK voting process means not every vote counts (I live in a tory stronghold; challenge will come from UKIP).
        When educating on the political process it is worth highlighting that the Nazi party happened in a democratic society. Mass engagement requires an informed, tolerant voting populace.

        Do you think the moral compass is missing from much education?
        Teaching right from wrong means setting clear, consistent expectations that are enforced (Tom Sherrington implemented behaviour training for all staff over 2 days, then across school for students).
        Pupils and parents are able to see discrepancies between school ethos, policies, agreements, and rules, and whether they are upheld/enforced.
        KS2 kids are very observant and vocal outside of school on what is unfair at school: kids who hurt others who make prefect the following week, or sit on School Council as Chair; the teacher’s favourite who wins the prize for handing homework in on-time most often (actually 5th); a head who promotes anti-bullying and speaking up but will tell that other child in front of you and others that he won’t do anything if he has two versions of a situation (unsurprisingly incidents for our child escalated, with two boys crossing a classroom to repeatedly punch him in the groin); a head who proudly tweets he did a good thing making an ‘enemy’ today (of parents who complained to governors about his behaviour).
        I think the wider education system seems to be heavily gamed by heads and teachers, compromising the integrity of information and records used to inform decision-making for children (I apologise to those with the integrity to provide safe environments and teach a wide syllabus).
        The system currently feels like the magnetic north has gone south and the focus is everyone protecting themselves rather than recognising and fixing problems. My views are coloured by our head and LA.

        What is your view on social mobility
        People have always moved up and down social strata. It’s not new; just very loud on the government’s education agenda.
        Is it really about creating a fairer society? Using pupil premium? Social mobility is a political economic issue, not about creating a fairer society.

        Or a meritocratic society?
        Professionals require certain qualities and abilities, and they should be good at what they do and have integrity to hold a position of authority. My prof. once asked me, is it better to be good or intelligent; many bad things have happened due to those who are well-intentioned, and many bad things by those who have reasoned their actions to be acceptable. Checks and balances are important in a democratic system.

        or even an aim of a classless society…
        I think humans naturally gravitate towards groups. I don’t want my groups to be inferior or superior to others. I would like to live in a tolerant society. But I’m aware history is not kind if we look at the human propensity to create ‘others’ and then treat them. A greater aim is an inclusive society tolerant of diversity.

        In what way is the primary experience of your kids undermining the standards you expect?
        To show the behaviour confusion in our school: the head was frustrated our child was not playing with anyone; he ignored this was because our child was being punched and kicked by others, and that his year yeargroup were repeatedly breaking a playground rules and getting into trouble. Our child discussed how he enjoyed the human chain swinging arc; we reinforced why it was banned. He considered it, and chose to sit on the sidelines during breaks and read. Staff were unhappy he was alone again and encouraged him to join his year group; he ended up as part of the human swing and in trouble. Staff behaviour failed to acknowledge that he was making a choice to uphold the rules, ignored why he didn’t want to join the group, and then rebuked him for breaking the rules. The school undermined our discussion on our peer pressure and having to decide what is the right thing to do.

        Our standards on keeping rules, being respectful, speaking up are undermined by the head.
        Learning now is not its own reward but requires bribery with sweets.
        Rewards are biased and don’t reflect effort, or are tick-box compliance on a theme they want parents to see the school doing well in (not the child) at a celebration assembly.
        Doing the right thing from the start is not valued. You have to do something badly in order to become better (i.e. behaviour, working hard).
        Gendered learning.

        Reading the above list it is true to say that my child has simply been exposed to the real world: favouritism, bullying, bribery, hardwork going unrecognised, gender expecations and stereotypes, etc. Now we discuss the school rhetoric and help him navigate it. We are hopeful that Y7 will bring a school with better leadership and management.

        How much is the child the responsibility of its parents? And the family?
        Parents are responsible for the child they send at the start of school. School is responsible for the child it sends home. A good school will work together with parents during times of difficulty for a child.
        Family dynamics impact, positively or negatively, or a complex mix of both.
        If schools want parents to provide the emotional and psychological support then keep us informed if you know they have been punched or hurt at school, or dynamic issues, or problems with schoolwork (my experience is primary school here). Primary schools state they will speak to parents about all sorts of things, ability, concerns, children being hurt/bullied, ours doesn’t.
        Secondary school sounds like even less information (although hopefully our relationship with our children will be robust enough for them to come home and speak to us). If we are legal guardians until 18yrs keep us informed.

        What if the family or the family circumstance is damaging ?
        I guess the question is what is on the spectrum of damaging circumstance, and how damaging does it need to be? I think kids are more likely to be silently damaged by bullying in schools. For those with identified issues there are educational pyschologists and social services.

        I am interested in the ‘common good’, what do you envisage this might be?
        A school is a shared environment and community. Tick-box compliance won’t bring anyone happiness. Schools need to have structure, consistent behaviour, and be responsive to the individuals (all) within it. It needs to be a healthy environment for all. Clear expectations (rights/responsibilities). Give people a voice – provide a forum and respect it.

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  3. Mooloo

    My comments relate to New Zealand private schools, which I experienced both as a student and teaching at one.

    5 Independent work

    This is a pious hope that is not met. You can’t have smaller class sizes, access to tutors and the money to buy whatever support is needed, and then generate intellectual independence.

    It’s pretty standard that a student that really succeeds in NZ in a public school will succeed at university. Not so much for those from the private system, where in their first year out of school in particular many really struggle when not being constantly under someone’s care. They either develop independence of work or they don’t, but the private schools most certainly do not give it to them.

    8 Responsibility

    Again, private school certainly seek to instill this, but you can’t have a person insisting that you are responsible, and hope to develop an independent sense of responsibility.

    12. The ability to deal with challenges of all sorts.

    See above. You are in as safe an environment as it is possible to be, generally cosseted with money, a school that ensures that you never have to negotiate terrible teaching for example and hope to learn to deal with challenges.

    People send their students to these schools precisely to avoid the challenges of most people’s real life.

    13 Scepticism

    He has to be joking. Does he really think a private school environment is more sceptical than a state school? Seriously? I think he means “questioning things in the correct manner” because real scepticism is not how the elite work.

    Gatto’s very insistence on their being a well-defined “higher culture” is at odds with this. Hard luck going to Eton and not liking plays.

    (This is a sore point with me, as I chose as a student to read quite a lot of “high” literature, and was also interested in history. So despite being a maths/science student generally I fully was capable of “high” culture. But I hate plays passionately, and I hated my school insisting that plays were somehow better than films. Thirty plays a year would be my idea of utter hell, and I’m not even opposed to high culture.)

    7 A complete theory of access to any place and any person. Get your kids to do this, he says, get them to think they can and work out how to access people and places they need to or want to.

    This is it. This is the key to how private school works. It’s knowing how to approach those with what you want, and then knowing how to persuade them appropriately that you are a “good chap”. (Of course knowing them or their friends personally is even better.)

    I see it time and again in my (state) school. Middle class kids know how to go about getting where they want to be so much better than those raised by poor parents They are taught to think longer term. To complain when it might work and not complain when it won’t help. Who to approach, and how to approach them.

    Private schools talk up a storm about “resilience” and “learning for life” and “independence” while they simultaneously watch their students like hawks so that there is no way than can slip into bad habits unnoticed. But what they are actually teaching them is how to behave so that you increase your chances of getting what you want.

    That means politeness, because polite will get you places. It also means the sort of impoliteness generally called arrogance, where you are prepared to ride over the common herd when they get in the way, because that also works.

    They don’t like you saying this though, as it breaks their magic spell.

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    1. Martin Robinson Post author

      Hi Mooloo,

      Yes, Independent work ‘under supervision’? Also independence has to be developed over time?

      Responsibility, how could this be developed in all schools?

      I like your point, challenges are ubiquitous, do we mean ‘intellectual, academic’, challenges?

      A conservative scepticism maybe, don’t question the status quo but do question everything else?

      Plays vs films…. an interesting one, not going to debate that here though 😉

      Politeness and arrogance, should all schools instil this?

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      1. Mooloo

        I don’t like schools overly stressing the teaching of independence and responsibility.

        The children should be shown examples of appropriate behaviour, and shown how their actions have consequences, but after that the school isn’t going to change their attitudes. Telling them they must be independent and responsible is worse than useless. .

        Same with scepticism. If you want to breed scepticism in students, then have a staff of wildly differing backgrounds — including some who are minority races, gay, atheist or anti-high-culture. Those staff will allow the students to see other ways of being in action, which will in turn make them question their own choices. If your staff is almost all the same sort (and in private schools, this means white, pro-elite culture and not openly atheist or gay) then no amount of saying you teach scepticism is going to have any effect at all.

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  4. marion long

    Petty conflicts occur everyday in primary school playgrounds. Having taught in maintained and independent schools, I’ve seen marked contrasts in the way that children are addressed following a playground issue. In the independent sector, particularly boarding schools, there is an overriding sense of community and in this context the problem tends to be minimised – it’s a scrap and the children shake hands, forgive, forget and move on. In maintained schools there is a different attitude. The issue in my view is disproportionately magnified with naming, blaming and shaming, references to criminality and threatening the child with involving the police. This in my view is an entirely inappropriate approach especially as in one instance the child concerned was only six years old. I recall these contrasts whenever the subject of elitism and class division comes up. If children are taught how to agree to disagree they will learn to solve problems effectively and gain the confidence that they need to be their ‘best selves’.

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  5. Adam D'Souza (@adamdsouza)

    I’d like to pick up from Mooloo’s comments above and respond to your thesis, Martin, about “what do posh schools teach”.

    One of the most interesting views on the private v state debate comes from John Rae, former Headmaster of Westminster School and, before that, Taunton School. He reminds us that “posh” independent schools (i.e. the former boys’ boarding schools perceived to have upper class and upper-middle class social cachet) used to be academically poor and have only recently overtaken grammar schools as the academic elite.

    Rae writes: “An editorial in a recent issue of Independent Schools Bulletin opened with the sentence, ‘The watchword of independent schools is the pursuit of excellence’. I take a more cynical view. The watchword of these resilient independent schools is the pursuit of power. If you track the careers of public school pupils over the centuries, you will see that the emphasis shifts perpetually to wherever power lies within society.”

    Therefore, my point is this: that “posh schools” are evolving animals, constantly seeking the edge to justify their fees (and why not in a free market). Martin, your blog is an interesting snapshot, and an interesting review of academic literature, but can be only that – a snapshot. In a couple of years the industry juggernaut will have rolled on. Defining what British independent schools teach is, IMHO, like wrestling a blancmange.

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    1. Martin Robinson Post author

      Hi Adam,

      Should all pupils be taught how to pursue power?

      My blog is a snapshot, but not of what is occurring in state vs private education, as I said I don’t know if that is the interesting debate, the debate I am interested in is whether there is, for want of a better term, a ‘hidden curriculum’ and whether this hold be discussed or ignored.

      If the ‘hidden curriculum’ is just reflective of the type of child who attends an institution rather than a property of that institution is interesting as is whether the hidden curriculum is all nonsense just dressed up in a certain way to attract parents to spend money or encourage their kids to go to certain schools. These schools, being, maybe, middle class just recreate themselves down the years and the other schools struggle on…?

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  6. Mooloo

    Adam, good point.

    In NZ the private schools used to offer “traditional values” as their main selling point. Now it is access to resources — smaller classes and better facilities.

    They’ve also in the last few decades moved from being overwhelmingly single-sex to overwhelmingly coed.

    If the UK independent schools are changing as fast as ours, then yes, they are very much a moving target.

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