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When will I, will I be famous? September 26, 2010

Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings.
Tags: , , , ,

Caught a tweet halfway through a thread earlier this week which was asking for examples of people who had become successful, having attended comprehensive schools (state secondary 11-16/18). I think it was trying to make the point that attending a comprehensive school didn’t prevent you from becoming successful and that there are plenty of examples out there.


A widening gap?

from loop_oh on Flickr


I’m not sure whether this thread was prompted by a recent TV programme discussing the widening gap between the educational achievements of those in fee-paying, independent schools and those in state-funded comprehensives?

I’m still trying to resolve why I felt a little uncomfortable about this. I think my concern probably stems from what we mean by “successful” and on whose terms? I suspect that the Twitter discussion was exploring people who are successful in society’s terms: high income, top of organisational ladder, entrepreneurial, famous(!), professional, academic high-achievers? Although I don’t have the data, I’d guess that a larger proportion of people who could be classified in this way enjoyed a private education, but that there are also plenty of examples of people with a comprehensive education who went on to be successful. To be honest I don’t care, at least not beyond the fact that an independent education appears to buy you better life chances.

My metrics for success would be rather different. Anyone should be considered successful if they ‘exceeded their potential.’ It doesn’t matter whether that person became a doctor, lawyer or professor, a firefighter, receptionist or assembly line worker . . . provided they made the most of their capabilities and the opportunities with which they were presented. I guess it’s about whether the education a person receives adds value; when they become an adult in society, do they enjoy a better set of circumstances than their parents? Now how you measure that fairly I wouldn’t dare to presume, but (and I know I’m not just out on a limb, but a rather spindly looking twig) can I suggest that on these terms comprehensive schools probably do quite a good job . . . maybe better than private schools?

Oh and if someone could brush that chip off my shoulder as they’re passing I’d be grateful. Thanks.

And if anyone recognised the title of the post as certain song lyrics, you should be as ashamed of yourself as I am for using them.



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