Alvin Barleycorn dresses like an unnamed extra from your favourite costume drama. But unlike the merrily dead cast of Downton and The Crown, he’s got to live with the consequences of Late Modernity; so he’s standing athwart history yelling “Reverse!” His previous entry is here.
Ever wondered why the most elite universities, the top professions and most of the arts are dominated by the alumni of independent schools?
Is it because of Britain’s entrenched Victorian class system which the outstanding talent, remarkable resourcefulness, ceiling-smashing IQs and bundles of untapped street-smart business savvy of the lower orders just can’t crack?
Is it because of a posh boys’ club that’s specifically designed to exclude the shaven-headed, the tattooed, the Primark-wearing, and those with too many piercings, as Owen Jones would have us believe?
Is it an elaborate conspiracy by the Illuminati to make sure that they can control a small, brainwashed uber-caste and hence take over the world?
No. It’s because mollycoddling, touchy-feely, Quinoa-commie PGCE graduates have done their best to turn state-school alumni into spineless pansies. Competition and the risk of failure have been banished from their upbringing by the cry-baby Trigger Warning Micro-Aggression Safe-Space bullshit that is the creation of the radical Left.
They are taught to believe that hurt feelings constitute physical harm, that criticism of any aspects of their behaviour or character is in fact emotional abuse; that all their moral failings must have excuses made for them by crackpot, overpaid psychologists; that they have an inalienable right never to encounter a rival point of view because this represents a ‘violent occupation of their space’, and might cause them to feel grumpy for a few minutes; and that no-one must ever ever EVER call them mean, nasty names.
The result of this is that a generation of school leavers has been created that is totally unfit for the outside world: unfit for the world outside of their cuddly comprehensives, and unfit to go physically outdoors, in case they scratch their knees on the pavement or take a rough tackle from that fat kid from No. 26.
Now I know that none of this applies to the poor kids who attend the kind of sink comprehensive that has less promising daily survival prospects than a patrol on the Ho Chi Minh trail.
But these inner city warzones are actually products of the same philosophy: total absence of criticism, total breakdown of discipline, total evaporation of boundaries, total disappearance of authority figures in classroom and home. To students stuck attending such hellholes, I apologise – this rant is not about you.
But ask a kid at an independent school about his reaction to a failed test or a lost Rugby match and he’ll tell you that the other guys were cleverer or bigger or faster, and that he’ll improve next time. There will always be another chance to do better and to learn from one’s mistakes.
Ask them how they ‘feel’ and they’ll look at you blankly. They will usually answer with how good or bad lunch was, or whether Chelsea beat West Brom at the weekend. Ask them whether they find wet weather or dark evenings depressing and they tell you that they just order a Domino’s and play Fifa.
Boarding schools teach you that you can’t go through life being utterly selfish and entitled. You live with 50-60 other students who don’t care about your feelings, your paper cut, your bruised knee or your bad Maths grade. They don’t care that your cat died or that your sister’s obese or that you are feeling a bit vulnerable today because feelings.
If there’s a football game against another House you get your arse out onto the freezing wet playing field because otherwise you’ll be letting your mates down. Don’t feel up to it? Tough. Feel sorry for them? Don’t, because those kids will learn how to overcome mild discomfort when it really matters and get on with it.
At independent schools, pupils are invariably put into sets based on ability. They aren’t lied to about everyone being a winner or everyone possessing equal ability. Gribbins minor is in a bad set because he’s lazy, and because he’s a retard. This is a fact of life that will be known and accepted by all – especially Gribbins minor. No excuses, no fake ADHD diagnosis. Gribbins is crap at Maths.
And how can Gribbins get better at Maths? He can bloody well pull his finger out and do some more exercises – and he’ll have a half competent teacher who actually understands Maths themselves who will be willing to help, provided he stops being such a lazy toe-rag. Will he get into the top set? God, no. He’s thick, after all. But he *might* – just *might* – get into one of the middle sets if he can just beat that illiterate Russian gangster’s son that’s bottom of the year in everything from Computer Science to – well, Russian. Gribbins will have realistic expectations, and if he fails, he’ll know who to blame.
Private school kids do tons more sport, the least forgiving of all collective activities. This will be hellish for the bespectacled scholars at the time, but it will teach them a valuable lesson in operating as part of a team with totally ripped meatheads. They will, after all, have to work alongside these braying chiefs at Deutsche Bank or Deloitte, and learning now to tolerate their conversations about how much they lift will set them in good stead for a lifetime of tedious office chat. They’ll get used to being cold, wet, tired, uncomfortable, under pressure, and most importantly, losing.
This is an experience that is totally alien to most of the state schoolers who end up in decent universities, for whom the smallest setback or upsetting remark triggers a tsunami of self-righteous indignation at ‘systemic oppression’ and ‘structural inequality’. These whining goons are the 19 year-old equivalents of the boy who stole the ball because the other kids scored a goal, or the toddler who broke their toy rather than share it. ‘It’s just UNFAIR!’
Finally, children from independent schools are more likely to have parents who have had to work hard to end up where they have. Sure, they can be pushy and arrogant, and they talk about their careers (and their children’s successes) far too much. They’re annoying and lack self-awareness. But they understand that life doesn’t owe you a living, that the workplace is a competition, and that happiness is not a fundamental human right that taxpayers owe them. And as for the really posh who’ve inherited their own money, most of them have been through the gauntlet of boarding school and the Army themselves, and so know the value of not being a wuss.
When I was at school, the most popular insult was ‘gay!’ Shock! Horror! Teenage homophobia! The bullying must stop!
Except when we were 14, ‘gay’ didn’t mean ‘homosexual’. It meant ‘shit’, ‘crap’, ‘wet’, ‘pathetic’, ‘rubbish’, ‘weak’, ‘wuss’, ‘loser’ and ‘baby’. I’m not saying we should go back to using ‘gay’ in this way, but a new replacement word for crappiness is long overdue.
So, if you are a victim of the Blob, be aware that your independently-educated pals are emotionally one step ahead of you in the game of life. It’s not too late – you can be competent, industrious, focused, resilient and robust, too. Just stop being so gay about it.
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