Sunday, February 25, 2007

Are elite school really the best?

from w
Last week I noticed a half-page advertisement in the Age newspaper for Geelong Grammar, appealing in the headline to the notion of expectation for your child to be the very best and to go places! They did not mention that a student could even become King! (Prince Charles once graced the establishment.)

It made me wonder about elite or elitist schools. In Geelong there are particularly two schools - Geelong Grammar and Geelong College who through the years have produced many leaders in Australia. Fees are extremely high whereas ordinary public schools such as Geelong High School do not have fees apart from books and minor fees. Some parents work hard to get their children into 'private' schools and of course the education offered includes bonuses such as camps at places like Timbertop, swimming pools, music, and so on. As for what happens later - well, apart from academic excellence and getting into good university places, it's the 'old school tie network' that is valuable I expect.

However we never sent our children to elitist schools though some of our friends do/did.

In Fiji some schools have good reputations and it is noticeable that many of Fiji's leaders today (apart from VB) went to either Adi Cakobau School or Queen Victoria School. 'Old boys network' is certainly evident with the latter. What do you think?


Blogger The Moody Minstrel said...

The school where I work is technically an "elite" private school. Having also worked at public high schools, I can say the private ones definitely offer certain advantages. However, what matters is whether or not the students make use of the resources that are made available to them.

A lot of them do not.

There is also the argument that the teachers at elite schools tend to be people that went to elite schools themselves and led very sheltered lives, i.e. they aren't very good at "life education". I can personally vouch for the truth of this, and it's a common complaint. It's actually kind of sad when the teachers that are most popular and most trusted among the students are the few that went to "ordinary" schools! As for me, I firmly believe in "life education", and Ye Olde Academy has made some very significant steps in that direction, but the old guard still remain entrenched in their textbook fairyland.

2:56 AM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Moody, when I was fourteen my Dad and Mum booked me into Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne - to knock off the rough edges perhaps - or to give me more opportunities with music ed. etc. Anyway I just flatly refused to budge and stayed on in a country high school. No regrets, though I did become a Methodist later!
Yes, they usually have good resources, but ordinary schools mean mixing with a good cross-section of the community. I've taught in a variety of schools, mainly government or church, but never at the VERY elite schools.

7:26 PM  
Blogger tooners said...

In Bahrain, the private schools are much better. The public schools have poor education w/ the teachers not being properly trained. For example, my SIL teaches at a public school. Last year she was teaching English and can hardly speak the language herself. I find that to be crazy in that how can a child learn a foreign language if the teacher can't even speak it properly?!! That's like me trying to teach Arabic and I don't even know the language.

I think in some cultures or societies, the elite schools are definitely the best ones... that is true for Bahrain... altho, as soon as I say this, I think of how many of the schools are more interested in money than education.

2:15 AM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

I guess there are different situations. Most schools in Australia are okay I would think, whether private or public. Of course it often depends upon the financial position of the parents, what they can afford.
Now you have a little baby boy, I guess you are thinking - hey, I wonder what school he will go to when he is five years old - as you would want the best for him and also to be bilingual as well.
Over here, keen parents book their baby into an elite school years ahead of him/her starting school and often there is a sentimental attachment to the school of the father.

2:45 PM  

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