peasant: sweet pea (0)
Peasant ([personal profile] peasant) wrote in [personal profile] shadowkat 2017-06-08 11:22 am (UTC)

Re: Still Star-Crossed

Not sure what it is like in the UK? But not all public schools are created equal here. Some are much better than others, and where you go is defined by where you live.

Our state schools are very variable. They have improved a lot in the last ten years and some of the inner-London academies and free schools (like your charter schools) are now educationally as good as the best public schools. There are also a very few surviving grammar schools which provide a specialist academic education, and some schools that specialise in things like the performing arts or sport. However, a standard state school in a middle sized town will be churning out a very mediocre education. And the worst sink state schools are frankly dreadful. The small rural schools are often very good but tend to only educate up to 11, with older children having to commute to the nearby town. In the case of the Scottish islands, many older pupils have to board because there is no day school in reach.

So an awful lot depends on your location because you have to be in the 'catchment area' to get into a state school. So people who don't approve of private education (it wasn't only your mother who had that prejudice!) will often spend as much as the school fees would have cost to move to an area with a good state school.

The difference in education was night and day. I went from studying the American Revolutionary War and Civil War for the 15th time to studying the Ancient Greeks, Hebrews and Egypt. I went from doing rudimentary math to algebra. We went from science being a field trip on how to make cider and donuts, to experiments.
This sort of difference is what is so sad and is why one of my biggest political interests is in improving education. The products of our standard state schools have been deprived the basics of a decent education by ideology and lazy assumptions about what children are capable of. It makes me furious. And I have met so many young adults who are acutely aware of how ignorant they are and are desperate to make up for what they have been denied. That generation will probably never make up the difference, but we are at least starting to do something for the younger ones. The educational 'blob' that ruined our schools has begun to be broken.

My brother and I tested horribly on those computerized tests -- we were both dyslexic.
Did they not allow extra time for certified dyslexics?

Our public (in the British sense of the word) and independent schools mostly use something called the Common Entrance Exam, which is produced by a central board but marked by each school being applied to. Other schools organise their own exams. So the schools have perfect flexibility to mark and select according to their own needs, nothing is standardised. Also a lot of independent schools don't have any minimum academic requirement at all - after all, there are plenty of thick rich kids out there :D

So the best schools in the country are still the elite academically selective public and independent schools, but there are plenty of other public schools that provide the same cultural experience with a non-academic vocational education. There are also layers and layers of nuance in the exact culture of each school, and the facilities and experiences provided. The differences between public, independent and private schools are all important to people who went to one or the other, even though to outsiders they are all just fee-paying schools. So exactly which school you went to is very important, and is often the first thing people will find out about you at college since it allows them to mentally fit you into an exact slot in their social filing system. And the basic sense of self-confidence is taught at all of them but more so at some than others.

As far as I know, even the very best free schools haven't managed to replicate that self-confidence. They can give an academic education as good, and they teach them wonderful manners (last year I went to a Shakespeare performance that turned out to be a schools' matinee, and the behaviour of children from the free schools was remarkable compared to those from ordinary state or private schools) but the effortless self-confidence still seems to elude them. Maybe it will start to emerge in a few years time.

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