The Governors And Their Priorities

British public schools not run by the Catholics were organised with a headmaster reporting to a Board of Governors. As far as I know, these were not elected by anyone, but co-opted on the basis of the class system, whereby intelligence and probity are deemed to accompany titles, which is to say, old money. The Governors were, therefore, the local aristocracy – on the edge of town was the Stately Home that had belonged to Elisabeth I’s spymaster Cecil, after whose family name and various titles our Houses were called – the gentry, other stuffed shirts and various upstarts in search of the social prestige of a seat on the board: what the English called The Great And The Good, although Sartre’s Antoine Roquentin would have called them the salauds.

These people were not by any stretch of the imagination educationalists, and their major concern was the social reputation of the school. To which the greatest threat was boys being seen on the streets after school hours, specifically 18:00. This applied not only to boarders but also to boys actually living in the town – they were not, therefore, permitted to visit one another or otherwise to show their faces outside their homes.

A friend of mine displayed great talents in art. The Art Master, like many other members of staff an elderly eccentric with no apparent life outside the school, offered to give the boy extra tuition in the evenings. For this to happen, however, the boy would have to walk from his home, through the holy streets of the town, besmirching them with his juvenile feet. The Housemaster forbade it, of course, and the matter was appealed to the Headmaster, who upheld his decision. In this he had no choice, if he wanted to keep his job. Letting the boy have art lessons would cause the bourgeoisie to see a boy breaking curfew, whereupon they would inevitably Have the Vapours and write Letters to the Editor about the Decline of Standards at the School. Salauds who were not on the Board of Governors would do this in the hope of being one day appointed, while salauds who did sit on the Board would raise the matter in order to make themselves seem important and poke other salauds in the eye.

Any non-teacher interested in actual education might ask what that school was supposed to be for, but there was quite probably no such person within fifty miles.

Posted on February 9, 2011 at 10:29 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: PARENTAL STATUS TECHNOLOGY, Hugo Grinebiter's Schooldays

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