True grit

a very beautiful post from Jamie Jauncey

A Few Kind Words

As someone generally preoccupied with stories, I’m particularly interested when a single story is open to diametrically opposing interpretations. Once one starts to think about it, it’s surprising how many of these we carry around with us.

Looking for an external example, I was briefly tempted to pick something from the coverage of the Scottish independence referendum to illustrate this, but I’m not going to. Instead, this is the one that has recently caught my attention. “Boarding schools apologise for ‘shame’ of historic abuse,” says the BBC. “Send children to boarding schools to develop ‘true grit’,” says The Telegraph.

Both are reporting on the same speech, earlier this month, by Ray McGovern, head of the Boarding Schools Association. Each slants the story the way one might expect it to and in a sense neither are wrong. McGovern’s narrative goes: boarding schools were rotten places once but they’re just the…

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a (remarkably sexist) view from the inside…

I have just discovered the concept of in-house boarding blogs. These are recommended by the folk at the Interactive Schools Blog as “Not only does it provide your current parents and pupils with great content to consume, but it also helps with marketing your school”. Blimey. Give me that content to consume.

Alas I thought I would peruse a few of these blogs, telling myself ‘they won’t be as bad as you think, keep an open mind’, but in the first one I have looked at I have discovered such an astonishingly sexist diatribe I can’t work out whether it is a parody or not. To quote from The Windlesham blog  :To all parents who have mixed gender off spring, I’m sure you have will have clearly noticed the differences between the children in their everyday behaviours, manners, routines, socialisation and their play.  I apologise before I go on but I am about to outline stereotypical gender differences.  Girls are mostly noted for talking excitedly and yet adore sitting quietly and colouring, dressing their dolls, playing dress up and making things pretty (whilst obsessing on what pair of shoes they are going to try on from their Mummy’s collection).  Boys on the other hand love action, watching it and being part of it.  They love things that move and taking things apart to see the mechanical insides.  They are far more into their physical being and research shows male babies prefer to look at a mobile with a collection of items and colours over a single face (team mates?).  It is common knowledge that girls are keen to communicate and enjoy one on one chat full of emotion and feeding their dreams but when they fall out, they fight silently:  Boys will fall in and out friendships and reconcile with a punch followed by a hand shake. It is all of the above that makes serving their environments even more so appropriate and important.  It is these two different environments and the result of the gender differences that are what creates a talking point amongst visiting colleagues and prospective parents at WHS.  

And so it goes on…

Now fair play to the young person who has written it, it is well written and they are clearly young and so can be forgiven anything, but can we really forgive an institution for leaving this kind of madness unchecked?

Poll: what do YOU think?

We have heard that Alex Renton says boarding should be banned from below the age of 13. We have heard a whole host of experts say there should be an end to “early” boarding. And we have heard Ray McGovern say that “Even a seven-year-old going into a boarding environment can be enriched by it.”

we would love to hear what you think, please answer the poll: