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Wendy Kay – Mother and Journalist It’s that time of year again when thousands of children are back at school, thousands more have started for the first time and thousands of others have switched from public to private.
The latter migration sometimes results in unspoken friction between parents, particularly those who formed tight friendships during their years of parenting together at a public primary school. The choice of a private school is seen as a rejection of an education regarded by most as adequate.
Prickly mutterings about elitism, snobbism and wasted money abound, along with the defence that children do just as well at public schools. And of course they do. It’s a popular, but often inaccurate, perception that parents send their children private purely for academic success. I know because the tween is attending a private school, as I did, and as my parents did. My dad left school at 15, my mum was a nurse and I got a cadetship on this paper straight after school. No history of academic genius there. So how about some of the other myths surrounding private schools, the children who attend them and the parents who send them?
Myth number one is that private schools are a life-long guarantee against bad behaviour, or stupidity. The media obviously thinks so because when an adult falls foul of the law, it trills at the discovery the criminal went to an “exclusive private school”? I’ve yet to see a public school graduate’s scholastic history splashed across the front page.
Myth number two is that there are fairy godmothers waving magic wands materialising facilities. The libraries, the gyms, the swimming pools and the air conditioned classrooms are paid for by the parents. Yes, there is limited government funding, and so there should be. Imagine the chaos if thousands of private school students suddenly flooded the public school system. It would collapse overnight.
The third myth is that all private school parents are filthy rich. They’re not. A woman on the checkout at ativan online pharmacy but Woollies the other day was thrilled her last child had started year 12 and soon she’d be free of school fees. She and her husband had worked tirelessly to put their boys through private school, and if it meant her finishing one job and working the till in the next, that’s what she did.
The fourth myth is probably the most widespread. All private school parents and kids are snobs, a snob being someone who thinks they’re better than someone else. So why is it open slather to bag private schools, yet the minute they defend themselves, they’re labelled snobs or `up themselves`. One mother who bailed me up at the newsagency demanding to know why I was sending the tween to private school said I was wasting my hard- earned money because it didn’t prove anything. The fact that I wasn’t trying to prove anything escaped her. My decision, my money, my business.
I don’t think a private school turns out a better person, that responsibility lies with the parents. And there are plenty of private school parents who could do with lessons in parenting, just as there are in public schools.
I like private schools because they are independent of government ineptitude and discipline is still allowed, giving me strong back up during the tween’s most formative years. No matter the peer pressure, the tween knows she faces tough consequences both at home and at school. And for me, that reassurance is priceless.
This article was published in the Manly Daily, Saturday 5 February 2011 and is reproduced with permission from Wendy Kay.