Observant little ...

I don't understand the answer, but I may have some ideas on the question...

schools - private vs public

My friends with kids have been talking a lot about schools lately. Which ones to send their kids to, but more specifically, whether to go private (ie non-State school aka Grammer School) or public (ie "free" education - schools funded by the State).

I think in many ways, it depends on what schools are in your area. I grew up in two areas which were known for having very bad state schools and very good private schools. So I was put down on the list for enrolment at certain private schools almost at birth. But only for high school - my parents couldn't afford private school when I was younger and they also thought it was more important to go to a "good" school for high school.

So I went to a couple of state primary schools and a couple of private high schools. I thought it worked well.

Some of my friends who went private all the way through had a very unrealistic sense of what "real life" was. They thought that everyone's parents were like their own - they had no idea how the other half lived. For example, one of my friends went to a top private school all the way through. She then attended uni at Bond University (at the time, Australia's only fee-paying uni - I'm still not sure if she knows that her parents got a 2nd mortgage on their home to afford that!). So she's only ever mixed with the upper economic classes really. She is younger than me and, to my knowledge, has already had the equivalent of two nervous breakdowns because she just can't handle the stresses of "real life" in the jobs she's been in. She's never bought a car, she's never had a loan, she's never rented. Her parents bought her a house a little while ago. And she takes it all as her due. I'm not saying that all private school kids are like that, but there honestly do seem to be a fairly high percentage in the ones I've come across that are. I may be spoilt by my parents, but at least I know that I'm spoilt.

On the other hand, I have many friends who were lost in the public high school system. I think you have to be not only bright but also extremely organised and ambitious to succeed in the public high school system. I was never organised or ambitious, and hung around the rebels in late primary, so I suspect if I'd gone to a state high school (which was what I wanted at the time), I'd now be a single mother on welfare like most of my friends from that time. Or at least, I would never have made good enough grades to even attend uni, let alone get into law.

To illustrate, I use two examples.

1. My brother - he went from being one of the brightest kids (and the school sports captain) in Grade 7 (the last year of primary school) to a "good C student" by Grade 10 (the third year of high school). None of his teachers knew who he was - he wasn't one of the know-it-all brains and he didn't make trouble, so he was simply overlooked. The fact that his average grades had droped from A's to C's- during his three years at a public high school wasn't considered a problem by his teachers. They actually asked my parents what they (the teachers) were meant to do about it. This is why I was sent to a private school for grades 8 to 12, and my brother was also sent to a private school in grades 11 and 12 (the last two years of high school).

2. My best friend from grade 7 - we were in all of the top classes together in grades 6 and 7 but she was better at maths and I was better at English (or reading/writing skills). We were both rebellious and had smart mouths, so we got along really well together. We stayed friends through grades 8 to 10 when I went to my first private school and she went to the local high school. By grade 10, she was failing every class. She dropped out of school before she had completed grade 10 to have her first baby. She was 15. I haven't seen her in years (we lost touch when I went to my 2nd private high school for grades 11 and 12), but my brother saw her a few years back and she was up to kid No.6 by then and proudly telling him that she hadn't worked for more than a month straight since she left high school. He told me that she was a little scary and more than a little pathetic.

It could so easily have been me. Even in my private schools, my grades varied pretty dramatically. For example, I was a straight A student in English through grade 8, but had dropped to a B-/C average by early grade 10. The difference was that my teachers had picked up on this and I was involved in many parent/teacher conferences to determine what the problem was. By grade 11 & 12, I was back up to a B+ average (though that meant I was third top in my year - only one kid had an A average).

My grades still weren't brilliant. I still mucked around in class and rarely did any study beyond the basic homework set. I still didn't do more than one or two night's study for exams. I only got one A on my Senior Certificate. But my school was marking hard and when my class was graded against the state average on the standardised test (pdf doc), my B grades still got me a tertiary entrance score in the top 1% of the state and I could have my pick of any course I wanted.

So the moral of the story? If I have kids, I will probably do the same thing that my parents did with me, and my brother is planning with his kids - state primary school, then private high school.

Listening to: the sound of myself snuffling (I have a cold)


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