Retelling the hell that was English boarding schools, C.S. Lewis writes:
If the parents in each generation always or often knew what really goes on at their sons’ schools, the history of education would be very different.
-C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, p.30
Brutality, hours of forced servitude by upperclassmen, almost compulsory sodomy, piles of institutionally created mandatory distractions (sports, absurd chores, etc.) let do an environment where very little was actually LEARNED except cruel habits of relating to others and lording it over them when you could.
And amongst all of this, many parents would never believe ANY of these things were going on. Lewis gave up trying to convince his father that school was horrible. He wouldn’t listen to a word he said.
On the flip side, today parents often believe their (very potentially) deceptive and rebellious children when they tell stories about what goes on away from home. Ask any contemporary school teacher (I know many and went to university with many) and they will frequently tell you that the PARENTS are more trouble than the children. Always calling and wanting things customized or changed or this bully reigned in and that person given special exceptions or attention.
Which is worse? I’m not sure. People that say public schools have been going to pot the past 50 years need to change that number to 100 or possibly even a much larger value though.
About it’s results, Lewis writes (in 1955):
For the last thirty years or so England has been filled with a bitter, truculent, skeptical debunking, and cynical intelligentsia. A great many of them were in pubic schools, and I believe very few of them liked it.
Those who defend the schools will, of course, say that these Prigs are the cases which the system failed to cure; they were not kicked, mocked, fagged, flogged, and humiliated enough. But surely it is equally possible that they are the products of the system? that they were not Prigs at all when they came to their schools but were made Prigs by their first year, as I was? For, really, that would be a very natural result.
Were oppression does not completely and permanently break the spirit, has it not a natural tendency to produce retaliatory pride and contempt? We reimburse ourselves for cuffs and toil by a double dose of self-esteem. No one is more likely to be arrogant than a lately freed slave.
May I take a stab at imitating the statement above?
For the past 20 years America has been filled with an angst-ridden intelligentsia with a profound sense of entitlement. Many of them went to public schools and had a lot of fun their senior year.
Those who defend the schools will of course say that they were not given enough specialized attention to their inherent learning styles. That if only there had been more money in the budget and lower teacher-to-student ratios they would not have turned out so bitter. But surely it is equally probably that they are the products of the system? Never punished, not even by a literal slap on the wrist by their teachers or parents, for when they committed rebellion or failure, that they imagine the world outside the academy’s walls to be as much a fantasy land as their self-esteem steeped education?
Quick to impose their wills against perceived social injustice (and personal liberties) are those freshly released from a spoiled middle-class biosphere into an unfair world.
The pieces of this I know the most about are the ones I took part in myself. Sometimes, my own tendancy to be a whiney-pants is disconcerting.