“Any school that values its reputation over the health and well-being of its students needs to take a long hard look at itself.”
Many years ago, when we were looking for a high school for my eldest daughter, we did the rounds of open days. We were not interested in private schools but, at that time, all the public high schools in our area had excess capacity so we had some choice. It is no longer true. The same schools are all now full to bursting, with playgrounds full of demountables and new public primary and secondary schools scheduled to open for the first time in a century, but more about that later.
Our first open day was at a very prestigious public selective school. Everything was perfect – too perfect. From the manicured lawns to the plush carpets nothing was out of place. The concert was a technical triumph – pity none of the girls looked like they were having any fun.
After the concert we were taken on a tour of the immaculate school guided by two students. They waxed lyrical about absolutely everything. It almost sounded like they were members of a cult. Eventually, a father could stand it no longer.
“You’ve told us everything that’s right with this school, so now tell us what is wrong with it.”
The girls looked horrified.
“There’s nothing wrong with this school.” One ventured, sounding like a Stepford Student.
I could stand it no longer.
“There’s one thing obviously wrong with this school.”
The girls looked at me with even more horror.
“They don’t teach you critical thinking.” I continued.
This obviously hit home and I could see both girls frantically searching their brains for a response.
‘Well, “ said one of them, “They do give us rather a lot of homework.”