Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stick to writing about economics

Chris Dillow of Stumbling and Mumbling, normally a man I have respect for, yesterday published a rather unpleasant post on the "chippiness" of public school boys.

The reason that I respect Chris is that he writes about what he knows, i.e. money and general economic theory, but in this case, I am afraid, he not only displays a woeful ignorance of public schools and their ethos but also a massive chip on his shoulder. In fact, the only thing that I can hope for is that he is writing with his tongue firmly in his cheek.
I for one never had an argument with an aristocrat at Balliol - and if I had, I wouldn't have lost.

A statement that displays all of the arrogance that he attributes to public school boys, a theme on which The Reptile is remarkably eloquent). It's rather sad, actually. Are you sure that you wouldn't have lost an argument, Chris? Perhaps you would like to argue about some aspect of microbiology with your humble Etonian Devil, hmmm?
Thirdly, it's not chippiness we feel towards public school kids, but contempt.

Arrogance, once again.
I, and I hope Clive, are quite happy with the way our lives have turned out. We don't envy Etonians. Quite the opposite.

Well, bully for you; what do you want—a medal. I should think that the vast majority of Etonians are quite happy with the way that their lives have turned out as well, and I doubt that many of them would possibly expect you to envy them. What's your point, precisely?
It's pitiful that such people have had so much money spent on their education and yet have (with a few exceptions) turned into no-marks.

Quite apart from the large number of OEs who have gone on to do good things (Ranulph Fiennes is someone I've always admired, for instance), including one or two becoming Prime Ministers, Chris utterly misses the point about what one pays for.

I have written on this subject several times before, so I shall summarise from one of my previous postings.
I was in a class of 24 or so until my first A-level year; that's not an awful lot lower than state schools. But, why was the Eton education so valuable (not for my A-level results which were, due to my extreme laziness and inability to grasp the more complex points of organic chemistry, not particularly good)? It was because whilst there I could do almost anything that I wanted in terms of... well... hobbies. I took part in theatre, both acting and producing; I am sitting in my flat, in Edinburgh, right now, surrounded by my metal sculptures (my primary passion at school); others played sport, or did fencing, or swam, or built working aeroplanes, or... Well, you get the idea.

The point is that schooling should not simply be about exam qualifications. It should be about finding out what you are good at, it should involve having the opportunity to try many different things.

Some, I've heard, are so imbecilic that they couldn't even get into Oxford.

Many more, of course, realising that Oxbridge are completely overrated in some areas (especially the sciences and medicine, where there are far superior universities) and didn't even try. Besides, we also didn't want to be labelled as the kind of twats who act like they are lord god almighty because they went to Oxford. Whoopie-fucking-do, eh?

The fact is that when there are seven boys competing for each place, as there were when I attended Eton, one tends to find that the entry exams are quite tricky (and the more people there are going for a place, the higher the required mark). So, whilst I have known Etonians who are hardly worldly-wise, few of them are actually "imbecilic".
Even the public schoolboys who have done quite well for themselves have done little better than us.

Again, whoop-de-do! The medal is in the post, Chris.
When I worked in the City, I remember talking to an Harrovian colleague and asking: "aren't you embarrassed that, with all that money spent on your education, you've ended up working next to me?"

And what was his reply? Was it reasonable? Or was it, "yes, in fact I'm embarrassed to sit next to a 'snotty nosed little provincial oik' like you"? I doubt that it was the latter myself.

But since we have already established that Chris utterly misunderstands the point of spending that money, it is hardly surprising that he would ask such a fatuous question.
I've often thought we should rename public schools as "special schools", designed to give an education to people who would otherwise be unequipped to thrive in normal society.

It is that kind of pathetic chippiness that marks out the fool; not only lumping in every person who went to public school together in one epithet, but also lumping all the public schools together.

What makes Chris think that his rather disgusting inverted snobbery is any more attractive than the values that he attributes to the entire body of public school educated people. I believe that the word for this is "bigotry", and my contempt for that attitude matches, I am sure, Chris's contempt for public school boys.

Stick to what you are good at, my dear Dillow, i.e. writing about money and markets rather than something that you haven't the faintest clue about.


Trixy said...

Having just spent the evening with a group of old public school boys (not the lovely DK, alas) I must add contempt to that silly post by Clive.

Although I only went to private school, i've been on the receiving end of inverted snobbery myself, and it's pathetic.

But Clive misses the point that people who didn't go to public school should be able to grasp.

When this group of chaps sat next to my group and introduced themselves, we all knew they would be very well mannered and polite. They were from at least three of the original six schools, and not one of them was crass, or rude, or objectionable. Which is why we let them take the seats: we knew that even if they were dull, at least they wouldn't ruin our evening by being rude.

And that's not something which appears to be taught in state schools these days.

Anonymous said...

Is there not something wrong with his logic? If Eton does not provide a better education, better chances of going to Oxbridge, or even advance you any more than anyone else why have contempt? Why should you think less of people, or children of parents, who choose a different style of education? Is it just because they have money or their parents did?
Children can thrive in any education system but the private schools produce better results. Neither guarantees a better result but private education has much better odds.

Praguetory said...

Better put than I. I, too, was hoping he'd pitch in to say he was kidding.

Martin said...


Dillow's over-rated.

Anonymous said...

Dillow is a twat of the first order for writing this.

I grew up in slums and went to nasty state schools, most of which were falling down and substandard: I'm not proud of that, and neither am I ashamed.

Many people I knew in those schools were thick and stupid, and looked set to never make anything of themsleves other than sit in the bookies all day, then the pub, before home to see if the giro had arrived. But not all.

I know a lot of public schoolboys, and I have known even more, and yes there are those who were definitely upper class twats and total snobs and idiots, and thick. But not all.

I would be hapoy to send my kids to public school because they would get a fine education; simple as that.

This is Cuntcillor Terry Kelly type shite and written by someone with a chip on their shoulder...and if he went to public school was one of the thicko wannabes.

Trixy said...

Apologies for calling the chap Clive instead of Chris. My bad.

chris said...

Mr Dillow has always been pretty open about his prejudice about public schools, and is at least normally open about it being a fairly irrational product of his own history.

James Higham said...

Firstly, Trixy, I did a double take on your comment but then going back through DK's article, he does mention Clive Davis in a quote.

As for Chris, he really does have a chip on his shoulder but he hasn't been this open about it before. It's usually only the 'managerialism' stuff.

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