An Education

Over the past weekend my wife and I saw the film An Education. I really enjoyed it, though in hindsight I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s just because the acting was so good! (The lead is up for a Oscar, and rightfully so.)

It’s about a young British girl in the early 1960’s, in her last year of high school, who has an affair with a rich, older con-man. It turns out it’s based almost entirely on a true story (very few details changed) and makes for an interesting read. Here.

As a parent (and soon to be parent of young adults), I think the thing that struck me the most was her parent’s attitude about the whole thing.

Was Simon a con-man? Well, he was a liar and a thief who used charm as his jemmy to break into my parents’ house and steal their most treasured possession, which was me. Of course Oxford, and time, would have stolen me away eventually, but Simon made it happen almost overnight. Until our “engagement”, I’d thought my parents were ignorant about many things (fashion, for instance, and existentialism, and why Jane Austen was better than Georgette Heyer) but I accepted their moral authority unquestioningly. So when they casually dropped the educational evangelism they’d sold me for 18 years and told me I should skip Oxford to marry Simon, I thought, “I’m never going to take your advice about anything ever again.” And when he turned out to be married, it was as if, tacitly, they concurred.

God help me not drop the ball on teaching my children what’s truly important. Too easy to do though.