August 23, 2006

Admission Impossible …

As that time of year rolls around again, and the world bemoans the ease of A–levels, GCSE's and SATS (how else could we possibly explain a rise in decent results?) we also have to face an encounter with an increasingly visible phenomenon. Watching channel 4's Admission Impossible, I am once again confronted with the idiocy of Britains upper–middle class. I say watching, because after ten minutes of listening to mindless snobbery and bile pour out of them in awfully correct and well elocuted accents, I switched the sound off, for fear it would give me a rage–induced heart attack if it didn't. To catch anyone up who managed to actually avoid it: all over Britain, mummys and daddys embark on a terryfying campaign to get thier little darlings into the 'right' secondary school for them – getting up to such capers as moving home, becoming Catholic (oh yes) and by the looks of things, making hash cakes as bribes (by this point I'd turned the sound down, but going by the womans maniacal grin as she bend over her aga, they weren't just cup–cakes). If the parents are bonkers, the children seem even worse. Turtored to within an inch of their lives, one little boy stares glumly at his feet and mutter 'I don't think I'm going to get in' – looking almost exactly like one of my friends as he left an A level exam, that he had needed to pass. These kids have worry lines. Perhaps worse than the threat of cracking up and becoming a delinquent (I hear sexual deviancy is more the thing nowadays – perhaps after one or two of mummys 'special cakes'), which is, after all a perfectly healthy response to having absolutely anal and deluded parents. No, the scarier part is the children who sit there and smile in a cutre childish fashion, spewing the same bile as their parents, blind and unquestioning. "Thats where all the criminals come from" one girl smiles sweetly – she has pigtails. Pigtails!

My god, this program annoys me on so many levels. Number one, lets look at these annoying dinosaurs who are impressing these out dated and DISCRIMINATING views on their children. Its nice to think these children might grow up to warp their own children in a similar way. Children should not be able to spout this bullshit. Number two … god, these poor children. Entrance exams, skills, musical instruments, etc. The sheer pressure of the whole thing is gross. The parent who says if he makes the 'wrong choice', his child will regret it for the next 60 years. Bloody hell. Unless they've drastically upped the school leaving age, and banned all transfers etc since I left high school (not that long ago, honest), I think we have a bit of a drama queen on our hands. And thats the problem. These parents make such a big deal out of something which is important, but not essential. A child who wants to learn can learn anywhere. A child who doesn't want to learn will reject it everywhere. Maybe at private schools, they are better at ramming it down pupils throats. I wouldn't know. And personally, I think being at a well mixed school, and learning how to interact with lots of different people is a whole lot more wholesome than thinking that the world really is full of people who have holiday homes in the carribean.

Jon O Farrell wrote about the whole thing in May Contain Nuts – one of the funneist books I read in a while, and it clarfies my whole opposition to the concept. Better, probably than I can do (and have done)

Anyway, rant over. I will just say that I am also against the whole system of league tables and obsessive testing which has led to this new breed of parent picking out the 'best school' (and then doping the admission staff)


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