This had me thinking about my own attitudes and the extent to which there is cognitive dissonance between my ethical and political ideals on the one hand and my expectations in a school for Bear and Mitts on the other. I dumped some thoughts, brain in a whirl, and although they aren't the pinnacle of clarity and reason I wanted to capture the gist here to record and discuss some of this confusion on my own site. Extracts from the thread:
I found Helen's argument persuasive but would need to visit the school and know a lot more before feeling confident. An argument in defence of the Yarraville-Seddon clique is that they may have chosen to live in those suburbs because, along with Northcote-Thornbury, these are among the only places in Australia of their type: lefty to green, socially and sexually tolerant, and rife with artists and other outsiders from the general boganalian diaspora.
We’re all formed by the negatives we ourselves experienced. I’ve been to rough bogan schools where violence was rife and intellectual and artistic qualities were pretty much looked down on (in real life, not in the rosy view seen by most parents or in brochures), and an extreme snob school with vicious bullying based on wealth and status and very narrow aspirations based on high flying white collar careers (in mundane areas like law and banking!). I’ve been to a school with some palpable ‘reverse racism’ too, and it largely caused me to have a reactionary phase in my mid teens, something that eased off once most of the perps had been expelled.
I dislike all these extremes. I would like a safe environment with as little anti intellectual crap as possible and a focus on intellectual and creative development rather than ‘tooling up’ future employees. A reasonable if not ridiculous selection of subjects including good music and languages. A mix of kids and backgrounds. Bit of sport but not abject worshipping of all things ball related.
Public schools that appear to leap those hurdles are then top of the list, and that’s probably 60% in our overall region. I wouldn’t want my kids to go to Carey or Scotch even if they were offered full scholarships, I equate that with class ambition rather than education. But the poppets are on the list for a couple of mid level private schools that seem to be one back from the extreme of snobbery, but that have good languages and music and seem to be roughly in synch with our beliefs.
Public schools I’m struggling with include those that have particularly rotten school results, offer few academic and creative options, overly emphasise the tooling up side, make the news for all the wrong reasons, are heavily dominated (ie a step up from mere interesting diversity) by another cultural grouping such that I think my own kids will get excluded, or simply have an excess of aggressive little sh*ts in fauxhawks or gangsta gear. I’d be willing to take a look, but I’d need some convincing that first impressions lacked substance.
They come from a pretty marginal grouping themselves- it is, in my respectful view, overly simplifying the matter to equate their angst with the general ladder-climbing characteristics of the holus-bolus middle class. But that being said, there is clearly some overlap, and probably some latent class and race discomfort coming out for many of them as well.