This is a remarkable piece of doublethink, isn’t it?

How come giving your ten year old child to “a stranger who does not love them” is to place their happiness and your very soul as a parent at hazard but giving your three month old child to a stranger who does not love them is practically obligatory on grounds of gender equity?

An interesting difference between day care and boarding school…..

43 comments on “This is a remarkable piece of doublethink, isn’t it?

  1. The madness with boarding schools, I’d have guessed, is that your little snowflake is handed over to a bunch of small savages from whom there is no escape for months on end. Whereas at day school if you don’t much care for your classmates, no problem: at four or five o’clock you can piss off home. (Or three o’clock in these fallen days, I dare say.)

  2. But mainly it’s because the government has some control over nurseries through Ofsted, whereas boarding schools are private and more independent.

  3. Infant day care is roughly equivalent (in hours) to day school. Boarding school is a completely different thing.

    Incidentally, I can think of any mothers in my circle, which is generally keen on “gender equity”, who have taken less than six months’ maternity leave.

  4. Yes it is Tim.

    We’re lucky enough that I earn enough for my wife to stay at home with the kiddies, and, although being the sole breadwinner can be stressful in today’s uncertain corporate environment, I think we made the right choice for our family.

    If I could afford it, would I send the kids to a good boarding school? Maybe. I think it’s important for them to be around Mummy and Daddy when they’re little moppets, but you want them to start to grow up sometime.

    I see a lot of people in their 20’s today still live with their parents. The cost of housing is partly to blame, but I think there’s something else at work too. A sort of infantilisation or arrested development of people who in previous generations would have been expected to settle down with children of their own by now.

    I can see the appeal of Mum doing your laundry while you play computer games in your room, but it’s a little bit undignified at the age of 30.

    Not that boarding school is the only way to cut off the apron strings, but if you absolutely positively want to make sure your children will leave home before you’re dribbling into your custard creams while watching Countdown, boarding school is the nuclear option.

  5. As I have young kids I have seen plenty of babies and small children being placed in daycare all day, every weekday, and in effect that means that they hardly ever see their parents on those days. As Natalie Solent says in comments on her piece:

    “for a child of 0 – 4 years to be in daycare long enough for the mother to do a full time job five days a week with, say, an hour’s commute from nursery to workplace, does in practice mean that for the child almost every waking hour between Monday to Friday will be spent in daycare.”

    Hard to see how that’s all right for a small child if boarding school isn’t all right for an older, more independent child.

  6. Pingback: The kindness of strangers « Samizdata

  7. Luis Enrique – “there are some things 2 year olds are more able to cope with than 10 year olds”

    Like what? Is this a claim that it is better to prevent bonds of affection forming in the first place, rather than establishing them and then putting them under stress?

    This is just class warfare. The Upper Class, and worse, Christians of a Catholic persuasion, send their children to boarding school. Therefore bad. Urban middle class mothers worry about being left on the Mummy Track and so they dump their children into child care. Therefore good.

  8. I went to boarding school and largely loved it, as did most of the other boys I was with I’d say. There were some who didn’t get on with it, but that’s true of anything.

    Boarding school today is a much more pleasant – as in soft and fluffy – experience than it was in the late 1970s/80s, too.

    Now they’ve all got mobile and email, whereas I couldn’t even phone home – overseas parents, you had to plan calls to the Middle East in those days, and my funds were limited.

    Startlingly, in retrospect, those of us whose parents lived overseas were loaded onto coaches, bused down to Victoria Coach Station and kicked out to make our own way to Heathrow – aged 11.

    Character building, certainly, but I’m not absolutely sure I would approve myself. Perhaps 2014 is very different to 1980.

    Anyway, that should help take care of the bizarre arrest-parents-for-emotional-abuse angle.

    What I cannot understand from these cunts is how it’s emotional abuse to send your kids to Rugby or Cheltenham, but not to expose them to a never-ending merry-go-round of different ‘partners’ and the allied domestic violence and sexual abuse that often-to-usually attends*. I guess I’m just not into progress enough.

    That said, we could afford to send our kids to board if we wanted. But we don’t, because we like having them around. They might say that was emotional abuse!

    *Yes, yes, there’s a domestic violence and sexual abuse in all corners of society, but it really is worse among these people.

  9. @SMFS not all upper class by any means. Lots of your standard middle clas and working class boys at my school (on scolarships and the Assisted Places scheme natch).

  10. As I never tire of pointing out, children just grow-up so slowly these days.

    But that doesn’t seem to be the prevailing view.

  11. there are some things 2 year olds are more able to cope with than 10 year olds.

    Well, sure. Two-year olds bounce more when dropped.

    So my mother says, anyway.

  12. @ Interested

    Startlingly, in retrospect, those of us whose parents lived overseas were loaded onto coaches, bused down to Victoria Coach Station and kicked out to make our own way to Heathrow – aged 11.

    Brings back a few interesting memories!

    We all just used to walk out of the school gates, find our way down to the south east, or wherever (buses & trains etc), London hotel overnight (by yourself), and then ditto Victoria check-in or Heathrow the next morning – again from 10 and 11.

    Once checked in, the BOAC “aunties” generally made sure you didn’t try and get on a wrong flight out of Heathrow. Though that didn’t necessarily help if you then had to change flights later.

    I agree, I suspect our increasingly nannying state probably wouldn’t approve :)

    @ Steve

    Not that boarding school is the only way to cut off the apron strings, but if you absolutely positively want to make sure your children will leave home before you’re dribbling into your custard creams while watching Countdown, boarding school is the nuclear option.

    Yep..

  13. @SMFS not all upper class by any means. Lots of your standard middle clas and working class boys at my school

    Agreed. And including the usual working expat brigade (in less developed parts of the world).

  14. @PF ‘Once checked in, the BOAC “aunties” generally made sure you didn’t try and get on a wrong flight out of Heathrow. ‘

    It was BA in my day, but yep, they used to greet you airside – you had to get through check-in and passport control etc on your own, too.

    I had a trunk about the size of me to boyhandle onto and off the Tube etc.

    Looking back, it was a bit mad though I definitely think that that sort of thing made me more indie than many kids of my age and helped later in life. Probably more than the actual classroom education.

    (OT but I remember one trunk belonging to a chap whose first name began with ‘P’ and whose surname was ‘Ennis’ used to amuse us greatly all by having P ENNIS stamped on the side.)

  15. I went to boarding school and largely loved it, as did most of the other boys I was with I’d say. There were some who didn’t get on with it, but that’s true of anything.

    I’ll bet you £20 you were good at sport (my guess being rugby given previous comments on here). That seems to be the yardstick by which people either did or did not enjoy boarding school: were you good at sport? I was terrible at it, and hence boarding school was shite.

  16. Oh yes, I remember lugging bags of stuff on the tube to Victoria station, then getting the train to Pulborough…even now, as recently as last Saturday, I count down the stations between Tower Hill and Victoria with a sense of foreboding. I was 15 at the time I did it though, but some boys were much younger. And yeah, no mobile phones or email.

  17. I did not have a very nice time at prep school but by and large public school was awesome. I was equally crap at games in each of them. I was one of the poor middle class scholarship boys but I was quick-witted and personable enough to be reasonably popular. There’s no doubt the separation from parents had some pretty profound psychological impact on me, but not necessarily in a negative way. Per Steve, I was definitely a lot more self-reliant my first year of university than a lot of the other kids who’d had Mummy and Daddy around all the time. It also helped that my gap year was spent working (and working really hard), not swanning around Patagonia with a backpack thinking how fucking spiritual I was.

  18. I had a trunk about the size of me to boyhandle onto and off the Tube etc.

    And of course no wheels! Myself, I seem to recall split items (rather than the trunk whenever heading overseas) and which was easier – though yes the weight / volume of luggage at that age was always a challenge!

    Looking back, it was a bit mad

    Yes.. In those days I seem to recall more delays and diversions (and even via other countries / islands) for things like weather etc.

    Or on one occasion a simple “no landing lights at the other end” preventing a delayed connection from taking off until the following day..

    And which meant your parents could never quite rely on you turning up when they thought you should!

    Which at that kind of age was all pretty memorable!

  19. @TN ‘I’ll bet you £20 you were good at sport (my guess being rugby given previous comments on here). That seems to be the yardstick by which people either did or did not enjoy boarding school: were you good at sport? I was terrible at it, and hence boarding school was shite.’

    I was OK, Tim, but not outstanding. But it was no guarantor of popularity, or happiness, anyway.

    Sport was important, but so was membership of the various other clubs and societies, the kind of music you liked, whether you were a nasty person etc etc.

    One of the most popular boys was a guy called Sean whose surname I’ve sadly forgotten who was absolutely terrible at all sport but just very kind.

    A good friend of mine went (a bit bizarrely, as an English boy from Leicestershire) to Rannoch, now closed down but at the time I think the most remote school in the UK. He was *very* good at rugby, back row too, but hated his schooldays. His brothers went to Sedbergh and Rugby and were really happy. Maybe it’s the school as much as the child?

    I do get the impression from some people that some schools were like a sort of Lord of the Flies with maths, but ours wasn’t like that at all.

  20. I’ll bet you £20 you were good at sport (my guess being rugby given previous comments on here). That seems to be the yardstick by which people either did or did not enjoy boarding school: were you good at sport? I was terrible at it, and hence boarding school was shite.

    I’ll take that bet, and your note whilst I’m at it. Terrible, utterly awful at sport. And me at a school they named a sport after, so they were rather keen on it. Had an okay time up until the sixth form, and a great time thereafter (for some reason, once past GCSEs, no one gave a toss what you liked doing, more just what you were like in general.)

    I’ll grant I was lucky – I was there in the 90s, when things were a bit fluffier anyway, and I was in a house where they didn’t much care what you were good at as long as you were good at something.

  21. I was definitely a lot more self-reliant my first year of university than a lot of the other kids who’d had Mummy and Daddy around all the time.

    I found you could spot, with unerring accuracy, who had been a boarder and who hadn’t. And I’m not talking some kind of accent based snobbery – there were plenty enough people who’d been to day schools or very nice grammars in the leafy suburbs where the premium on the house (for the catchment area) was more than you’d pay for five years’ fees. But ex-boarders just knew how to get on with things, and had some idea of maslovian priorities, too. Within 24 hours they’d know how to get hold of food, drink (crucially), how and where to clean or obtain clean clothes, and usually discovered their way round. A lot of the others were still getting lost in college a week later.

  22. That Decline and Fall quote comes to mind: Elite school, leading school, good school, school.
    There are no doubt good English boarding schools. But in France no such thing is possible, because the boarding school population is distressed, by behavioural problems, parents’ divorce etc. Likewise Swiss finishing schools are care homes not educational institutions.

    We sent our firstborn to day nursery, and I regret it. Lots of lovely guff in the prospectus, reality was neglect. X years later he’s still a bit more timid than his brothers and sisters.

  23. “I found you could spot, with unerring accuracy, who had been a boarder and who hadn’t.” Yes, so could I: the ex-boarders couldn’t cope with the speed (and, perhaps, savagery) of the repartee of the ex-day boys in Common Room discussions. Odd, but there you are. Maybe it just came down to a handful of very clever well-educated extroverts with scorched-earth debating tactics.

  24. @ dearieme
    “Maybe it just came down to a handful of very clever well-educated extroverts with scorched-earth debating tactics.” Or maybe it was because there were some things that public schoolboys just didn’t say

  25. Irrespective of state / private or any of the other guff about inclusiveness and shiny prospectuses, what are the real give-aways the school is crap?
    Mine would start:
    visible mobile on Head’s desk
    jewellery / make-up
    amusing non standard screen saver
    noise level at class changeovers

    Not being an expert, just a father, I’d be interested in others’ hints.

  26. While I can sympathise with Tim Newman: (I was pretty bad at rugger and that was a major handicap for *some* masters and pupils at a rugger-oriented school), sport wasn’t the be-all and end-all – my main problem was that I just didn’t fit in. I scraped into the school teams for Boxing and Chess in my second year so if sport was all-important life should have been good – no, it changed in year 3 when I was in the sixth form and lessons became fun (and the last boy who tried to bully me was taken crying to Matron – incidentally the spectator who took him could have taken me to pieces any time he wanted but chose never to do so). Yes, there was bullying in boarding schools but not as much of it as in state schools because we were allowed to fight back and the community generally despised bullying and usually someone would intervene if it went too far.
    Overall, I liked public school much less than prep school or University but that was partly because I didn’t fit in, partly because my prep school had a brilliant headmaster who generated a superior ethos: nevertheless with hindsight it was still the right choice when my father asked me at the age of twelve whether I should go there as my local grammar schools just did not provide a comparable education (I should have taken Maths A level at 18 instead of 16 and gone to, at best, a second-class university because they didn’t Oxbridge entrance).
    @ Interested
    “Maybe it’s the school as much as the child?” In my case it might have been the child as much as the school – my father went to the same school and liked it

  27. “Or maybe it was because there were some things that public schoolboys just didn’t say”: That’s probably true. Their vocabularies seemed a bit stunted.

  28. My own experience of being a day boy at a minor prep school was that I pitied the boarders and thought it an absolute horror. There is a single pleasure to be obtained from school, and that is the walking out of the school gates.

  29. @bif

    My mother turned down the school I was intended to go to after an interview with the headmaster at which she asked the question, ‘And what will you do to my son if you catch him smoking?’

    His reply – ‘We take a pretty relaxed view of that sort of thing’ – was not what she required.

    Oddly enough, the old bat was herself a keen smoker, and still gets through 40 a day now.

  30. @john77

    The phrase ‘as much as’ speaks for itself, though I know what you mean.

  31. Only half? I’d have thought pretty much everyone has experience some form of “bullying”. What matters is the degree of it, particularly the frequency.

    This is the problem with the “have you ever?” style of question.

  32. “@DBC What sad stories? I can’t see many above.”

    I’m quite sure you can’t. And nothing will change.

    Do you want change?

  33. bloke in france – “Irrespective of state / private or any of the other guff about inclusiveness and shiny prospectuses, what are the real give-aways the school is crap?
    ….
    Not being an expert, just a father, I’d be interested in others’ hints.”

    Well at the risk of getting an even worse reputation than I have already, the number of female teachers. Especially the number of female teachers in senior positions.

    It is amazing how reliable it is as a predictor.

  34. I had n’t realised quite so many people on here had been to boarding school ; prep school ;private school. Explains a lot.
    Why no mention of sexual abuse?Or is it the Nick Clegg, as joint Head Boy, syndrome ?

  35. @ DBC Reed
    Why no mention of martians? Well, partly because I didn’t see any martians.
    Some people are obsessed with the idea that public schools are hotbeds of homosexuality because Americans thinks fags are homosexual. Those who speak English English should not make that stupid error.

  36. DBC-

    I went to a minor prep school until I was 11. My parents were working class, but my mum had this insane belief that I ought to get a private education. The resulting doomed attempts by my father to earn enough money to pay for this futile extravagance were a major reason for their marriage breaking down.

    After 11, I went to comprehensives- Kingsley Park Middle and Trinity, both now gone, the latter replaced with one of Blair’s mediaeval faith academies. I think I was better of there, than at an institution run by men so insane that they seriously expected ten year olds to put themselves in the direct path of hurtling cricket balls.

    My own view is that while the education itself is a bit better than the State (having experienced both)- although it is full of pointless bullshit like endless sports and a dead, useless language called Latin- the major purpose of them is just to make you the kind of person who gets invited to the right do’s in later life. Like the infamous PPE degree, it’s fuck all to do with actually what you learn, and all about who you meet.

    One of my major memories is the endless ridicule because I (a) lived in a flat and (b) we couldn’t afford holidays abroad, or any holiday at all come to that. Bunch of fucking cunts, the lot of them. I dunno about Lord of the Flies- if you put them all on a desert island, they’d all starve to death arguing about whose father had the best motor car. As I said, the single pleasure a school provides is the walking out of the school gates.

  37. DBC Reed – “I had n’t realised quite so many people on here had been to boarding school ; prep school ;private school. Explains a lot.”

    I doubt there is anyone here who isn’t to the Left of me. A lot further to the Left in most cases.

    I went to a Comp. From kindergarten to university.

    I am not proud of it. Nor am I ashamed of it. It just is. Doesn’t mean you aren’t a complete tosser.

    “Why no mention of sexual abuse?Or is it the Nick Clegg, as joint Head Boy, syndrome ?”

    Maybe because there wasn’t any? I suspect that most people who obsess about sexual abuse in schools are just jealous they aren’t getting any of that Hot Teen Action.

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