The Great Conversation (I’m looking for a pupil!)

I am looking for a school-age student who has the time and inclination to read a Great Book with me online via Skype. Please leave a comment or email me if of interest.

The idea is expanded in this link, which begins as follows…

“The Good Books are food for a wholesome imagination. They are well-written. They introduce young people to characters they will never forget. They soar beyond easy cynicism or nihilism. They soar beyond the sweaty halls of politics. They may well have villains in them, there may be warfare, but there will not be the creepy relish for bloodshed—no itch for the base, the sick, the bizarre, the filthy, the evil. We know where to find these Good Books. They are everywhere, or they used to be. It almost does not matter in what order the children read them, and many of them can be read again and again, and are as satisfying for grownups as they are for the wide-eyed little ones.”

Professor Anthony Esolen

 

Certain books are as pertinent to our day as they were to the day in which they were written. They are so significant that their influence continues to be felt in our writing, thought and conversation today. Reading these books brings great joy and wisdom, but being part of this “great conversation through the ages” also gives a tremendous cultural leg-up. And for one of the first times in history… most of these books are free!

Inspired by the work of  E D Hirsch, which shows not only the great cultural benefit of the knowledge contained in such works but also the cultural deficit suffered by those who remain ignorant of them, we feel there is an opportunity to bring these books to children – especially to those who might not otherwise encounter them – in a considered sequence. We have chosen 56 books – an achievable 4 per year for children from the ages of 5 – 18 – and arranged them in a rough age order below. A link to a free version of the book is also included.

Such selections are necessarily arbitrary and are further compromised by their inevitable Western and English-language bias. It is important to note that, for the reasons noted above, they have been chosen for their cultural, more than their literary, significance. They can be read independently or – especially with the younger ages in mind – with the aid of a tutor, teacher or parent.

Read the selection here.

Captain Raindrop – Interview with Rhidian Llewellyn

Last week I began a part-time project to interview retired prep school teachers about their teaching methods.

My first subject was Rhidian Llewellyn. Rhidian began his teaching career at Heatherdown. From 1980-1984 he was Head of History and English at Arnold House School in St John’s Wood, London. In 1986 he became Senior Housemaster at The Dragon School, Oxford before being appointed, at the age of 32, Headmaster of Papplewick School, Ascot. He now advises parents and schools via his educational consultancy, Llwellyn Education (http://www.llewellyneducation.co.uk/).

In this interview, we discuss:

  • Life in a prep boarding school
  • Teacher recruitment – 1970s style
  • The breakdown of trust and the rise of conformity
  • Justice vs. Mercy
    – and much much more!

Hope you enjoy! Part Two can be found suggested on the right hand column of YouTube.

The link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kt–sy4xRA0, and is posted below.

Heritage School

Today I visited the wonderful Heritage School in Cambridge. There’s so much I’d like to say about the school, had we but world enough and time, but will limit myself to these select quotations from their website for now. The school is a tremendous example of how it is possible to be original and innovative without necessarily feeling the need to “embrace the new”.

Far too often learning is seen as a means to an end – good exam results – rather than an end in itself. At Heritage we understand that good exam results are necessary for progression, but we will never let the legitimate demands of our exam system obscure the central purpose of education: preparing young people for life.

At Heritage our Infants and Juniors go on a Nature Walk once per fortnight. Its purpose is to encourage detailed observation and identification of ‘ordinary’ natural phenomena such as local wildlife, flowers, plants and trees. We are privileged to have easy access to the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens. Students keep a Nature Notebook where what was observed is identified, described and painted using water colours. Nature Study encourages children to have ‘seeing eyes’. Charlotte Mason wrote: ‘Eyes and No Eyes go for a walk. No Eyes comes home bored. He has seen nothing, been interested in nothing, while Eyes is all agog to discuss a hundred things that interest him.’

Picture Study encourages a similar attention to observation and investigation. It involves looking with concentrated attention at a reproduction of a great painting once each week. The painting is then turned over and its details are described from memory. In this way children will get to know a great artist and his work each term. This greatly increases their pleasure and engagement when they can see the original in a London museum, for example, or a 10 minute walk away at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

In June each year we have a ‘Screen Free Week’ to encourage families to think about the amount of time that is spent on screens and to make extra time for other life enhancing activities, including reading.

The Pedagogy of Perception

Last Friday, I attended a fascinating forum on Liberal Education put on by Benedictus at Blackfriars in Oxford. Its title was The Liberal Arts -Education and Society.

Every guest was invited to offer a 5 minute reflection on one aspect of Liberal Education. Anthony Radice, for instance, offer these thoughts on Memory and Liberal Education.

I wanted to make a few exploratory remarks about Knowledge and Perception, and ended up speaking mainly about horses…

I started by looking at how Bitzer defines a horse in Hard Times (“Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth…etc”) and said that those of us who defend a “knowledge-rich education” are too often lampooned as calling for this sort of desiccated approach.

I contrasted Bitzer with Sissy Jupe, who is unable to ‘define’ a horse because she has grown up amongst them. Knowledge, for her, in this domain at least, is entwined with Life – and is vivified as a result. This, I argued, is essential for a cultivating a rich, healthy perception of the world. C S Lewis makes the same point in Abolition of Man, arguing for an education that has “some blood and sap in it—the trees of knowledge and of life growing together.

I then used C S Lewis to say that not only should knowledge be conveyed vividly, but affirmatively too:

Of Ruksh and Sleipnir and the weeping horses of Achilles and the war-horse in the Book of Job—nay even of Brer Rabbit and of Peter Rabbit—of man’s prehistoric piety to ‘our brother the ox’—of all that this semi-anthropomorphic treatment of beasts has meant in human history and of the literature where it finds noble or piquant expression—

I wondered what effect a presentation of knowledge in such a way – Vivid (memorable) and with a Positive / Affirmative Disposition – has on students’ Perception. I marshalled Blake (“I look through [the eye], and not with it…”); Coleridge (“We receive but what we give…”); Owen Barfield (“…if quantum physics is true, we see reality not as it is, but as we are…”) to make the point that we have a choice about the way we attend to the world, and that the world responds in kind.

I finished by saying that it was an under-explored job of teachers to aid this effort so that their students’ world is more animated, more enchanted, more pulsating (and by extension less alienated) than it would be otherwise. I said that teachers could perhaps put more thought into whether their lessons were going to have the same effect on their students as the experience I have recounted by Toynbee, who “still retained, some forty years after one experience of the kind, an abiding sense of personal participation in the war of 90-80 B.C. between Rome and her Italian allies…” 

Could there be more thought, analysis and experimentation to develop a Pedagogy of Perception?

 

Exam Results and League Tables

UK independent schools are in a bit of a bind when it comes to exam results and league tables. They know that their parents are in one sense “customers” who like to know what they’re “buying”, but they also know that it is the most important aspects of a good education that are the hardest to measure. So I was very heartened to read the Headmaster of Malvern College’s line on public examinations, which seemed to strike the right balance between the pragmatic and the romantic:

If you have been looking for Malvern in the so-called League Tables, you are not likely to find us as Malvern, along with about half of the other independent schools in the country, does not voluntarily participate in an attempt to rank schools solely on the criterion of perceived success in public examinations. In no way does this mean that we do not celebrate the academic achievements of our pupils; indeed, the academic cornerstone of Malvern is central to much of what motivates us and we are extremely ambitious for our students… At Malvern, we make special provision in a range of ways for those who are academically gifted and have every intention of continuing this programme.

The principal reason for our being unwilling to enter league tables is that we do not wish to support a system which becomes the raison d’être for many schools and limits and influences, to a disproportionate extent, a focus on a broad education. In simple terms, we believe that there are a range of other factors of enormous importance in assessing the education offered in a particular school and we do not subscribe to the view that schools can be assessed in the same way as, for example, football clubs.

Secondly, the criteria used to determine where schools lie on such tables are, in essence, the construct of newspapers and different criteria may be applied by different newspapers in any particular year: for example, A*-A, A*-B, A*-C and A*-E may all be used depending upon the newspaper.

Our pupils are aware that they will move into a competitive world and it is vitally important that each one of them has a keen academic focus and builds the strongest academic profile possible. But we do not wish to be an ‘academic factory’ and the rounded education which attaches significant importance to music, art, drama, games, Duke of Edinburgh Award activities, as well as work in the broader community and beyond, are also at the heart of our overall programme.

(http://www.malverncollege.org.uk/Exam-Results)

Kidzania and the growth of a child’s imagination

My office happens to be near Kidzania, the “Educational Entertainment Experience” that has recently opened in Westfield, so it has been the subject of some speculation amongst the Keystone team. I have spent the past few days reading more about it, and confess to some unease about its educational vision.

Kidzania is built over a whopping 75,000 square feet and is conceived as a “child-size city where kids are in charge.” Rather than the sorts of games and rides found in most theme parks, this child’s city offers a range of 60 jobs and activities that mimic the adult world: there’s a newspaper office, a hospital, a bank, a supermarket and even a nightclub. Children are paid for their jobs in kidZos, the local currency, and can spend their hard-earned salary on the activities. They are paid Z8 for being a policeman, Z9 for being a model in the fashion studio, Z12 for being a surgeon in the hospital etc (full list here). The facsimile of adult life is not confined to the city’s market economy. As you can see from some of the family videos that have been shot there, the city has all the meretricious features of modern mall life that will be familiar to anyone who has been to Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai etc. – from the low-lit boulevards lined by fake trees and sculptures to the ceaseless soundtrack of half-familiar Club Classics.

The educational philosophy underpinning Kidzania is self-explanatory. It is role-play, “a universal form of play enjoyed by children all over the world. Role-play is fun and has very positive educational, psychological and motivational benefits.” Kidzania’s form of role-play “is an exceptional education and entertainment city which stimulates creative thinking and boosts levels of self-esteem and confidence.” Educators and “play experts” have ensured that children learn “creativity, critical thinking, communication, confidence, and collaboration.” Of course, schools are being offered large discounts to entice them to Kidzania for next year’s school trips.

Children have always loved to pretend to be adults, and role-play is surely one of the most time-honoured of children’s amusements.

So what are my misgivings about Kidzania?

They are two:

  • Its environment leaves little room for the imagination. As anyone who has ever held a stick aloft and declared en garde to a friend or sibling knows, children do not actually need realistic toys or environments to lend verisimilitude to their play. In fact, I wonder whether there might almost be some sort of law of diminishing returns – whereby the more realism that is supplied by a toy or environment, the less a child actually derives in imaginative output. When a child is transplanting very life-like organs, like she might in Kidzania, or flying in a real cockpit, what exactly is the imaginative or creative merit? Where is the potential for imaginative growth? This equation can’t be exact of course; a completely desolate environment would not provide much imaginative fodder either. But I have a hunch that the various “Adventure Play” initiatives like The Land are striking a more humane balance. By supplying just enough material (hideouts, small hills, swings, discarded toys etc.) to get children started, such initiatives exhibit so much more faith in the generative power of children’s imaginations. My own tastes would run to something more like Maggie and Rose’s Village Nursery, whose imaginative landscape (a traditional English village green) is thoughtful, harmonious, natural but – crucially – limited. It is not a detailed, realistic picture of an English village, but rather one that leaves plenty of room for the development of a fertile imagination. Rudolf Steiner no doubt goes too far in the quotation below, but I think his insight is so much richer than that offered by Kidzania:

You can make a doll for a child by folding up an old napkin, making two corners into legs, the other two corners into arms, a knot for the head, and painting eyes, nose, and mouth with blots of ink. Or you can buy the child what is called a “pretty” doll, with real hair and painted cheeks. We need not dwell on the fact that the “pretty” doll is of course hideous and apt to spoil the healthy aesthetic sense for a lifetime; for education, the main question is different. If the children have the folded napkin before them, they have to fill in from their own imagination what is necessary to make it real and human. This work of the imagination shapes and builds the forms of the brain. The brain unfolds as the muscles of the hand unfold when they do the work they are suited for. By giving the child the so-called “pretty” doll, the brain has nothing more to do. Instead of unfolding, it becomes stunted and dried up.

  • The content of its role-play is banal. Given that Kidzania has chosen to fill its child’s city with content (and not let children invent much for themselves), I wonder whether they could have chosen jobs and activities with a bit more of the marrow of life in them? There is something curiously anodyne about offering children the chance to be a banker, dentist or air conditioning technician; something more shallow than their grandiose educational promises would suggest about offering children the chance to be a model, beautician or flight attendant – especially in the synthetic way they are presented at Kidzania, with limited opportunities for children to manipulate the experience. It used to be that children would imagine themselves as a knight, a pirate, a Robin Hood. Can’t the burdens of finding a career with a good wage be postponed, at least until after the age of 14? The ages 4 – 14 are a never-to-be-repeated opportunity for children to fill their heads with stories, images and genuinely fertile experiences. Couldn’t a Kidzania be devised, such as this one in the US, that fed such activities rather than taking time away from them?

The question of how far the adult world should be allowed to impinge on childhood receives frequent attention. As I have argued elsewhere, now that primary children are being introduced to financial literacy and a whole host of other adult concerns, it seems that precious little time is being left for genuinely exploratory and imaginative pursuits that were once the joys of growing up.

 

Some (no doubt rosy-eyed) pictures showing the inventiveness of Victorian children’s typical games..

 

The moral training of young children

I recently read a piece in The Guardian about the introduction of financial education in our schools from next September, intended to teach children to “solve money related maths problems and learn about public finances, pensions and how to budget”. Worthwhile behaviour this of course is, and the priority given to such lessons is a growing trend in today’s schools. I think it reflects the role that the curriculum plays in the mind of today’s activist. Faced with the crisis of obesity, or waste, or the role of women, the activist suggests that we teach children how to eat their greens, use fewer plastic bags, dismantle the patriarchy and so on.

Such suggestions are benignly given, seem sensible and few would question the problems they seek to solve. But do such lessons achieved the desired effect? I think they are often have three unintended consequences.

Firstly, such lessons take time away from a school’s core purpose, which is the transmission of knowledge. You’ll notice that most of these lessons are aimed at primary school children who have not yet mastered the foundations of arithmetic, reading, writing, grammar, history, geography, science etc. Lessons instructing children in particular attitudes or behaviours were traditionally a responsibility of the home because it was felt that schools did not have enough time to combine ethical lessons with traditional subject lessons. Here is an example of a lesson on water health and wellbeing as part of the Guardian’s ‘Live Better Challenge’:

“[F]ive nine- and 10-year-old boys fan out next to each other in the grass under a big, leafy tree. Another boy tries to lie beside them. “Get up, we can’t have six fingers. Go and be soap!” bawls part of the “hand”. The unwanted finger reluctantly hauls himself to his feet and joins the larger group of pupils standing over the outspread hand. Grinning at the sheer daftness of it, they all start to bob up and down in unison, making splurting noises as the “fingers” wriggle energetically on the ground. “Miss, look, we’re a soap dispenser!” the pupils call out, verging on hysterics as they try to co-ordinate their “squirting” action.”

Every hour that a child spends in lessons like these is an hour he is not spending learning the essential prior subject knowledge needed to understand the world in any depth.

The second effect is an effect of the first. Without foundational subject knowledge, is it not probable that children will learn the behavioural commandment without understanding the knowledge underpinning it? The best time to consider conservation, nutrition, feminism and other prominent contemporary issues is once a child has a good working knowledge of natural biology, human biology, history, politics etc. Without knowledge, the commandment becomes something of an empty cartridge, unconnected to the wider fabric of human knowledge, less likely, perhaps, to lodge in the daily consciousness of the child.

Lastly, I have long been unconvinced that lessons in behaviour, which might otherwise be called lessons in character, are best taught explicitly in the classroom. The independent sector has always understood this truth, preferring to inculcate virtues through the careful cultivation of a child’s experiences outside the classroom, such as on the sports field or in the dining hall. If we are to teach character in the classroom, do the above examples – and many like it – really hold up to scrutiny as virtues? Are they not rather applications of older virtues, such as temperance (‘temperantia‘) or charity (‘caritas‘)? To misrepresent the application of a virtue for a virtue itself is to conspire in a moral muddying of the waters, particularly when we are talking about the character formation of young children.

To take one example, a recent government report found that the UK had slipped from sixth to ninth place in the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, that “a relative lack of ambition and positive attitudes may hold the UK back from realising its full entrepreneurial potential”, and that therefore the following lessons in primary schools were to be encouraged:

“Schoolchildren as young as five as will be taught how to set up their own businesses and make profits under plans to be unveiled this week…Those changes would mean that even the youngest children will be taught about the role and importance of business and the need to make a profit.”

The instruction “to make a profit” is not a morally defensible virtue in itself, but is rather an instance of the older virtue of diligence (‘industria’); just as the instruction to eat healthily is an example of temperance (‘temperantia’). Profit is a benign outcome only when tempered by other virtues and limited by other vices – above all greed. To set up profit itself as the virtue is, in C. S. Lewis words, a “rebellion of the branches against the tree.”

For more than a century, the multitude of different Purposes for education has disturbed and confused the means. “We [profess] to make ideal citizens, super tolerant neighbors, agents of world peace, and happy family folk, at once sexually adept and flawless drivers of cars,” Jacques Barzun wrote – in 1945. There is of course a place for character education, and the UK independent sector has been responsible for some of the best examples of it, but it would be wiser if it was both confined to a later stage in a child’s schooling and limited in scope to virtues and vices that have stood the test of time.

Towards Understanding

The crest and motto of Shaw House School.
The crest and motto of Shaw House School, courtesy of its Facebook page

How far a motto describes the ethos of a school is a matter of some debate, but I rather liked the crest I saw on a recent visit to Shaw House School: “Towards Understanding.” Humble, unambiguous, purposeful, it perished with the school in 1985 when the buildings were discovered to be unsound.

The land was passed to Newbury County Council, which opened a state secondary on the same site in 1999. A new school, with a new motto:

Personal excellence and collective responsibility

I don’t want to labour the point, but I wonder if the waters have not been muddied when the schoolchild who went to school knowing that he was expected “to understand” now goes “to be personally excellent and collectively responsible”?

Mini-Essay: Why Boarding?

The symptoms of what we call being a Boarding School Survivor are varied and complex. They include difficulties in relationships and parenting, workaholism, inability to relax, isolation, being experienced as a bully, substance abuse, a sense of failure, as well as physical, sleep, and sexual problems…

(http://www.boardingschoolsurvivors.co.uk)

Such is the trauma allegedly caused by attending a British boarding school… and certainly many of the families I have advised over the years (especially from around the Mediterranean!) seem to hold similar views. Even in the UK, many families feel that boarding is wacky or elitist or past its sell-by date.

Does boarding have a place in the modern world? You will find many articles that answer that question by drawing our attention to their ‘excellence’: their excellent academic results, their excellent sports facilities and so on. I agree with the label, but it does not by itself make a case for boarding. This mini-essay will ask: what is the actual purpose of boarding school? What makes it a distinctive choice for parents?

I believe the case for boarding rests on three distinct purposes.

 

Purpose 1) Boarding schools allow parents to entrust their children to those who have been raising children longer than they have.

The Latin origin of the word ‘educate’ is not, as some like to think, ‘educere’ (to lead/draw out) but ‘educare’: to rear. To choose boarding schooling is to delegate a large part of that rearing to experienced and, most importantly, dispassionate teachers. Teachers, male and female, are often called “Masters” in boarding schools because the title once described their minimum qualification (a Masters in Liberal Arts) but, in my mind, it is a title justified more by their mastery of rearing children. Good teachers have often instructed thousands of children. Sometimes this leads to complacency; more often, it leads to a disposition that does not treat every childish whim as an urgent need to be satisfied.

James Delingpole made this point well in an article explaining why he sent his children to boarding school:

Jim was bright but a slacker and could easily have gone off the rails. But he was steered through a difficult adolescence by an inspirational housemaster – Dennis Christley – who’d dealt with hundreds more teenage boys than I ever had and who, by administering just the right amount of carrot and stick at just the right moments, turned Jim into the charming, rounded, socially well‑adjusted delight he is today.

Historian and Anthropologist Professor Alan Macfarlane explains (in Letters to Lily) that, even before the popularity of boarding schools, the English believed in the importance of sending their children away from home at a young age:

Long ago, much to the surprise of Italian and French visitors, it was noticed that many of the English sent their children off very young (from as early as age seven) to be brought up in another household. If they were rich, they were pages or ladies-in-waiting; if poor, servants or apprentices. The English said they did this because unrelated strangers or friends could exercise good discipline in a way that parents found very difficult…Later this developed into the sort of education that I had: boarding schools from the age of eight to eighteen with parents abroad in India whom I hardly saw. My grandparents, with whom I lived, disciplined me. Meanwhile my parents were like grandparents who could show an uncomplicated and high level of affection.

Is this purpose still necessary? Absolutely. Parents so often tell me how hard it is to be authority figures to their children, especially to teenagers. They describe the nightly battles with homework, the constant setting and re-adjusting of curfews. Parents in the West have probably never been on such intimate terms with their children; they have also probably never found it harder to exercise the discipline that is demanded by paternal and maternal love. Boarding schools help parents enlist the support of experts who, like them, have their child’s best long-term interests at heart but who, unlike them, have enough experience and emotional distance to know how those best interests are realized.

 

Purpose 2) Their immersive cultures are able to exert a more profound influence than day schools.

The reason I started this blog is because I believe boarding schools have the power to enact an educational philosophy of a comprehensiveness that is denied to day schools. Their longer school day and sometimes isolated campuses allow the fostering of a culture that can in some respects be insulated from ordinary affairs.

Under the wrong stewardship, boarding schools can foment the most hideous cultures. Witness the many British boarding schools in the nineties and their problems with bullying and drug addiction. By the same token, though, a well governed and purposeful boarding school culture can prove to be a powerful countervailing wind against the narcissistic and trivial preoccupations that are typical of teenage life.

What is this culture? As stated in the Purpose of my blog, despite the differences of individual schools, I believe that there is such a thing as the ideal British boarding school culture, and that it is something to which most boarding schools aspire. At its best, it is a culture that pays due consideration to the head, the heart and the body; that promotes the virtues of selflessness, teamwork and responsibility; and that stands as a bulwark against the appeals of materialism, cynicism and self-importance. This last word is the most crucial for me. By sublimating a pupil’s ego into a culture that is in every sense larger than itself, the best boarding schools can help to train pupils in that most rare virtue of humility.

At a boarding school, such a culture can be fostered from the moment a pupil wakes to the moment he or she goes to sleep. One Eton housemaster, now the Headmaster of a top day school, lamented the fact to me that his school “basically stopped educating at 5pm”. Etonians, he said, were being educated for at least another four hours per day.

Do any boarding schools really exert a more benign cultural influence than that provided at home? How can you tell? School websites and Open Days can reveal a school’s culture, if a somewhat manicured version, but perhaps the best way to see a culture in action is via the raft of fly-on-the-wall documentaries that are now available, most of them for free on YouTube:

The changes through the years are fascinating (do Eton boys still sit around “declaiming” with their pals before class?) but more telling to my mind is the cultural thread that runs through them all over the past half-century. It’s a thread that runs back until at least Thomas Arnold’s day at Rugby. It is hard, though of course not impossible, to foster at home.

 

Purpose 3) They encourage independence.

This purpose is the most popular motivation cited by prospective parents and pupils. Of course, independence feeds out of the two purposes mentioned above: being away from one’s parents and being part of a strong and positive culture. It is so self-evident a merit of boarding school life that I shall limit myself to just a few observations.

Firstly, in what ways is the independence learned at boarding school different from that learned at day school? Boarding pupils are physically independent from their parents; if they have been put through a rigorous curriculum, let us hope that they will become independent in mind and thought too. I think the independence that boarding schools most aim for, though, is the independence from simple or immediate gratification. Boarding schools train habits very well. It is through undertaking – and surviving – unpleasant experiences that we grow up. From sharing a room with someone you don’t get on with to giving up one’s free evenings to direct the house play to any number of petty annoyances that fill a typical boarding day, boarding schools are ideally conceived to help children grow up being able to cope with, to transcend, the petty stresses and irritations of life.

Secondly, ‘independence’ is not meaningful without its corollary: ‘responsibility.’ Boarding schools return the trust that parents have placed in them…by placing in their children trust to behave responsibly. Sometimes this means trusting older children to run various parts of a school; at other times, it means trusting children simply to use their time wisely. Ex-boarding school pupils are often remarked upon for their confidence (John Locke said that boarding school boys were “bolder and better able to bustle and shift among boys”); it is a confidence derived from exercising responsibility from a reasonably young age. In recent times, there has been a bit of a tendency in boarding schools to micro-manage pupils’ “schedules” (a horrid word), which is a shame. If the school culture is right, schools should have enough confidence in pupils who have earned their independence to use it responsibly.

The result of these three primary purposes is an environment ripe for one of school’s secondary, but most profoundly rewarding, purposes: friendship. Boarding schools encourage that rare breed of lifelong friendship that can only be forged by the sharing of intense life-changing experience. As Hilary Moriarty, Director of Boarding Schools’ Association says, “ask any boarder what has been the best thing about boarding, and they are likely to say, ‘Being with friends,’ whatever their parents may think about academic excellence.”

 

Further Reading

The Boarding Schools’ Association: http://www.boarding.org.uk/356/why-boarding-

My Further Reading list: http://www.willorrewing.com/reading-list

Boarding Schools’ Value-added: http://www.ukboardingschools.com/advice/value-added-learning/

State Boarding Schools’ Association: http://www.sbsa.org.uk/

Roger Scruton on knowledge, the curriculum and the state’s contribution to education

In a recent BBC Point of View broadcast, intellectual heavyweight Roger Scruton  gave a fascinating history of education since the nineteenth century. It is well worth a read.

Having just written a mini-essay on the curriculum, I was especially struck by this thought:

The state inherited well-funded, long established and dedicated institutions and a tried and tested curriculum that large numbers of people knew how to teach.

Hear hear! He also shares my feelings about the importance of knowledge, encapsulated in this tidy phrase:

Education, we must remind ourselves, is not about social engineering, however laudable that goal might be. It is about passing knowledge from those who have it to those who need it.

(Full article here