Thursday, October 13, 2011

Public School

Betty Keira tossed the match and hoped that her four pledges of affection were right behind her.
I spent the evening last night contemplating the dubious charms of public school.  It was parent-teacher conferences yesterday and it all went swimmingly for the Progeny van Voorhees.  They go to a kindergarten through eight grade school and I generally love it.  (Really. The teachers are top drawer, the enthusiasm is through the roof and my kids are thriving.)  And then I ran into a situation that left me mistrustful (not morally or legally or anything) of one of the teachers.  (No, I won't say why.  We Founding Bettys (in our inestimable wisdom) have declared those rocky shoals out of bounds.)  And it got me wondering (while I was deep in the midst of my rip-up-the-registration-card-and-burn-this-sucker-down moment.  Me!  Daughter of TWO public school teachers!) about private school.
Of course, they don't call it private school in Britain.  They call it public school.  (Which is massively confusing to me.):
These [independent schools] were often established for male scholars from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds; however, English law has always regarded education as a charitable end in itself, irrespective of poverty. For instance, the Queen's Scholarships founded at Westminster in 1560, are for "the sons of decay'd gentlemen".  
The educational reforms of the 19th century were particularly important under first Thomas Arnold at Rugby, and then Butler and later Kennedy at Shrewsbury, the former emphasising team spirit and muscular Christianity and the latter the importance of scholarship and competitive examinations. Edward Thring of Uppingham School introduced major reforms, focusing on the importance of the individual and competition, as well as the need for a 'total curriculum' with academia, music, sport and drama being central to education. Most public schools developed significantly during the 18th and 19th centuries, and came to play an important role in the development of the Victorian social elite. Under a number of forward-looking headmasters leading public schools created a curriculum based heavily on classics and physical activity for boys and young men of the upper and upper middle classes.

Of course, in the land of La Neels, these types of schools abound as well as some more basic primary education to which young children can be driven hither and thither, setting the stage for all sorts of interesting adventures involving car smash-ups, runaway dogs and as a showcase for competent automobile-handling. I suspect that The Great Betty's default mode was for day-schooling at a 'public' school.  What about the Bettys?  What's your ideal educational environment?

P.S. A long time ago I established a page on Facebook titled The Uncrushable Jersey Dress, wondering if it would be beneficial.  And then I ignored it.  Lo and behold, it's been getting comments all this time!  If you want to add a small and Araminta-esque dollop of Neels-ness to your Face-chatting, look us up and join the conversation!


  1. Our son and heir went to public school but he's now 36 and if I were raising children today, I'd likely home school. I saw enough questionable practices when Jason was in school (and was frustrated beyond belief by the district's inability to understand that while they were quite happy for my child with a high IQ and a learning disability to "get by," we were not. It took 9 years to finally find someone who "got it," and helped us. By that time Jason had developed so many bad habits to accommodate his situation, school was not something he found worthwhile. He graduated and even went to college but it was a struggle!

    And I know his story is not unique. I hear such tales all the time. I'd just as soon be the one ruining my kid. ;-)


  2. LOL

    And I maintain and defend home schooling based on the old fashioned British model. This includes gentlwoman who are well-educated but impoverished as governesses, young gentle Tutors, and/or older parish workers, and sometimes, an older French skinny dance master.


  3. Betty Cindy - you are right.
    And in a perfect world I might have home schooled the last 3 K kids. (Professor Vue De Plane lobbied for it constantly). But even if the world were perfect, I am not. I'm disorganized and I gotta feeling we'd have sat together on the couch and watched TV.

    In a next to perfect world, the whole krew would have gone to Catholic school, read that "public", private, or parochial. Also read: no money.

    But in the world as we know it, they went to the local public ('private'?)schools. We were blessed with above average (in all ways) progeny, and as the best kind of scum, they rose to the top. I wish I could have home schooled my nephew, though. He went 4 years to the 3 p type school and is now in Public. Neither one is working for him. But his mom is single and has moved away from us. Sad Aunt Betty Mary. 8-(

    So, my real belief is that it doesn't really matter where they get the 3 R's. What's more important is the E,M,T (Expectations, Morals, & Training) and that come from home. In my own experience, having a mom at home or nearby is also beneficial. Otherwise, it's way to hard to know what's happening wherever then are.

  4. I hear you, Betty Mary. In many respects I would love to home school. But having the kids home all day might sap my will to go on. Couldn't I do it where I home school them but not here or anywhere near me?

  5. When you figure that out, Betty Keira, you could sell that idea and make big money!

  6. Then there was the original home school in colonial America where a small neighborhood group of children gets schooled by one parent while the other mothers get on with the chores and the fathers work outside the home.

  7. Betty Ross went to Uppingham (see excerpt Betty Keira quoted -- "reforms" made me snort) and a preparatory school before that. So he was sent off to school at the age of 7.

    We won't talk about how wrong that was. I know his parents meant well and thought they were doing the right thing.

    I went to public school. I might have done better at a private school (it was discussed -- my sister had gone to one ten years before me -- but my parents had pretty much run out of the energy to decide and nothing happened) but I doubt it.

    Facebook! Wow, I can't believe you didn't mention this before now. I've respectfully asked for permission to join.

  8. So why can't I find you on facebook? What's wrong with me (you don't have to answer that....)