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Having no public school education makes me jealous

 
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How imported do you think a public school education is, in these modern times compared to older times.I was talking to a relative who live in Canada and he was talking about his life in public school and how it gave him good solid education.

Unfortunately for me I didn't get any public school eduction like he did but it never worries me in the slightest until now. It is he who is earning the big bucks, not me. But now I think about it if I did have the more money, it would not improve the quality of any of the hobbies ,I so richly enjoy.
 
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First of all, what does the word "public school" mean here? In America, it means a school run by the government (as distinct from a school funded by the private sector). In England, a "public school" is what Amercans call a "private school" (a school that sells services to the public, as distinct from individual tutoring, I guess).

What, exactly is the difference between the kind of school you went to, versus that of your friend?
 
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I'm pretty sure US public education is a domestic product.

There are some exceptions, such as taking a teaching assistant-led math or chemistry section at a state university.
 
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The British term "Public School" is an unfortunate choice of terminology, as the term "Private School" is often used to describe exactly the same type of organisation.
 
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Well, I'm still trying to parse Gerald's post. He's from Britain, so presumably "public school" means a school not generally available to the public unless they have a lot of money. :roll: But he refers to a friend from Canada, and I have no idea what those hosers mean by "public school", or whether Gerald understood his friend correctly or not. Any Canuck's wish to clarify? What does "public school" mean to you?

For you Brits and anyone else for whom "public school" means a school that is not available to the general public: can anyone explain where the term "public school" (British usage) came from? I'd really like to know. Most differences between UK and US English can be easily explained as parallel evolution. Sometimes the UK version is more logical; sometimes the US is; usually it's a wash. But "public school" in the UK usage is something that I really and truly do not understand, as it seems completely illogical. Any intelligent explanations would be welcome...
 
Gerald Davis
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That explains it all,my Canadian friend friend didn't go to public school after all, not in the English definition. The same goes with some of my family over there too, I was beginning to think they was snobs over there too. It goes to explain why Gorge W Bush, after the election said he would make public school best they can be. If he meant that in the English definition, he would get oranges slung at him.

Originally posted by Jim Yingst:

For you Brits and anyone else for whom "public school" means a school that is not available to the general public: can anyone explain where the term "public school" (British usage) came from? I'd really like to know. Most differences between UK and US English can be easily explained as parallel evolution. Sometimes the UK version is more logical; sometimes the US is; usually it's a wash. But "public school" in the UK usage is something that I really and truly do not understand, as it seems completely illogical. Any intelligent explanations would be welcome..



Its easy if you work it out logically, but I still could be wrong but here goes. In the States public must mean publicly owned while private is privately owned by company hence they charge a fee.

English term of public must mean public access; so a privately owned school that is open to the public is called a public school in the same way public transport is called public whether it is owned by private company or not. Private schools mean private lessons for a party who wish to stay private away from other pupils or one-on-one tutorial.
 
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In US, private can also mean parochial, (i.e. Catholic school), so when you said you were jealous, I was like: Yup, I was too. (Well almost - I went to a "public school" (US term) for my last year.)
 
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It sounds like you have experienced the �old boy network� [1], to your disadvantage. To answer your question �How imported do you think a public school education is?� � I think in Britain, very important � it�s just the way it is. I would not let it hold you back through, as they say �Education doesn�t make you smarter, life does�. And why be jealous [I never have been], I bet we had a more enjoyable childhood.

Personally I feel that our two-tier system, in fact causes problems. Senior British managers and senior military officers can be employed in positions that are beyond their capabilities. They can often be viewed as arrogant, having never performed the tasks of the normal workforce.

It�s interesting that most of the senior politicians in the UK, did go to a public school and then of course to a top �Red Brick� [2] University. This is even true for the labour (socialist) party.

[1] � A term used to explain, the ex (British) public scholars, who frequency keep in contact with each other in adult life. They do also have a tendency to hold the most authoritative senior positions, and to favour their colleagues, over other normal ex-scholars. Scholars who take part in sport can be known as �Old Blues�. Lastly a few elite public schools exist, known as Barbarian schools (no idea why). Each public school has its own distinctive (upper class) accent.

[2] � An original university, typically quite old. Over the last decade the less prestigiously named polytechnics, have been able to rename themselves Universities. The top two Universities are can be collectively referred to as �Ox-bridge�.

[Bit of a pain having to explain all these British phrases]

"I never let my schooling get in the way of my education." - Mark Twain.
 
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
But "public school" in the UK usage is something that I really and truly do not understand, as it seems completely illogical.



I think you'd need to understand grammar and comprehensive schooling first.

At grammar school they learn Latin grammar and grammar of other languages.
At grammar school Shakespeare "studied Ovid*, who remained a great favourite all his life, and he would have read Plautus*, the most admired writer of Latin comedy. He would also have been introduced to rhetoric and some logic through the writings of Cicero* and Quintilian*, as well as Latin history, philosophy and perhaps some rudimentary Greek."

At comprehensive school they learn woodwork, cookery and computing among other useful subjects.

Wikipaedia has a good definition of public school.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_school_(UK) * search for this URL
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_school
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammar_school
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comprehensive_school
[ December 05, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
 
Marcus Green
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"At comprehensive school they learn woodwork, cookery and computing among other useful subjects"

I went to a comprehensive school and took O levels (taken at the age of 16) in 8 subjects, none were in those subjects. I do not recall studying those subjects at any point in my formal education. Many have suggested I would have benefited from studying some cookery however.

I don't think there is any convincing or logical explanation for the use of the term public school for what in other contexts is called a private school. Whenever the merits of the comprehensive system is debated I feel that the limits of the "Secondary Modern" should also be considered.
[ December 05, 2004: Message edited by: Marcus Green ]
 
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"Whenever the merits of the comprehensive system is debated I feel that the limits of the "Secondary Modern" should also be considered".

Eh? Watch out mate! I was SecMod. Whatcha mean "limits"? 'Ere what's 'e talkin abaht?
 
Barry Gaunt
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I just googled for my old school and found that they seem to be doing some interesting stuff nowadays. Changed a bit in 40 years or so.
 
Marcus Green
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Lordy Barry, you must be older than me. One of the limits of the SecMod was that it immediatly placed your position in life. I have heard the expression

"She thinks she's special but I know she went to a secondary modern"

Ahh British snobbery, the finest in the world. Did you hear that excellent snipe by Michael Howard

"This grammar school boy is not going to take any lessons from a public school boy on children from less privileged backgrounds."
 
Peter Rooke
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Eh? Watch out mate! I was SecMod. Whatcha mean "limits"? 'Ere what's 'e talkin abaht?



So was I. I when to a comprehensive school in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear (North Eash England). The most famious person from it was the footballer Chris Waddle - (Hethethethethethe hethethethethethetheth, Chris Waddle [The Fast Show]). The school does not have it's own web site!

Maybe I did not make myself clear . I was trying to say that the public school boys can be parachuted into senior roles; mostly without the experience. Not the other way round, I'll leave those remarks to the Prince of Wales. . It's just that, I've been in the British Military and been under-employed by the BBC ( ) - so I've got a slightly slanted view of ex public school boys. Of course I've now offended the old boy network!

Maybe if I had been taught "Latin grammar" [at public school], my English would be better, and I would be able to be more clear. But I've no time, only one language that I'm going to study; Java of course.
 
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In the UK the term "Public School" referes to the top 200 or so independant schools in the country. These are the old traditional exclusive establishments who groom their students with the assumption they will attain positions of high office whereever they choose to work. These establishments are the absolute embodiment of the English class system and encourage an air of superioriority amongst their students.

I guess that the "Public" refers to the fact that anyone can send their children to these schools. All you need to do is have fantastically large sums of money and possibly references from appropriately respected members of the community (i.e. former students).. Presumably when these schools first stararted to exist, the choice for the discerning parent was to send their children to one of these establishments or to arrange education themselves through the services of a private educator.

It was only much later that schools were created that were funded by public money and education became a universaly available commodity.. and only then that the confusion over the use of the term "Public School" arrises. Nowadays in the UK these publicly funded school (i.e. the vast majority of school) - are refered to as "State schools"
 
Peter Rooke
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The real kicker (here I go again) - is that these British public schools, who charge hefty rates, have charitable status. This means they can avoid paying tax in certain areas. I think this may have just changed - but I'm not sure.

Mind you, the best thing about these schools is they seem able to avoid government interference (social engineering) and can concentrate in educating their pupils.

"If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat...." - Douglas Adams
 
Helen Thomas
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Originally posted by Marcus Green:
"At comprehensive school they learn woodwork, cookery and computing among other useful subjects"

I went to a comprehensive school and took O levels (taken at the age of 16) in 8 subjects, none were in those subjects. I do not recall studying those subjects at any point in my formal education. Many have suggested I would have benefited from studying some cookery however.



At grammar school one didn't get the opportunity to take up such courses whereas at comprehensives one did. Music was compulsory in grammar schools regardless of whether the pupil was musical or not.
 
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Originally posted by Peter Rooke:
Mind you, the best thing about these schools is they seem able to avoid government interference (social engineering) and can concentrate in educating their pupils.



On the down side it means that they can avoid sticking to the national curriculum, which is there for a good reason.

While private schools do have a massive advantage in that they can afford better equipment, that doesn't necessarily mean that they will do a better job of preparing a child for adult life. While I went to a state school, my girlfriend went to a private school. I admit that she had access to a far better infrastructure to me (one example is the language dept. at her school - it had a dedicated computer room with educational equipment and software, where as my school had two tape recorders), but at the end of the day we both ended up with a similar level of education and going to the same university. She actually wishes that she had gone to a state school instead - there was a massive amount of peer pressure at her school to end up going to Oxford or Cambridge. Those that didn't go there (the large majority) were made to feel like failures. Her school was also quite bad at preparing the students for "real life". The students spent all their time in an environment with many spare resources, and lived in life styles where their parents would pay for everything they wanted. They finished school not being able to understand what it was like to not have anything they wanted. They also finished school having only interacted with other rich people, and most had a large distain for anyone of a poorer background. My girlfriend, having got into the school through a grant rather than having rich parents, definitely was made to feel inferior because of her social background. That's not the kind of atmosphere I'd want my kids to be educated in.

Having access to good resources is only half the educational experience - the more important half is in developing the character of the students.
 
Peter Rooke
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Joe, I tend to agree with most of what you say.

national curriculum, which is there for a good reason.



Only I do recall that the old GCE O levels were quite difficult to pass. I'm not convinced that the qualifications that pupils attempt today (GCSE) are as rigorous. I also question the claims that state schools are educating students more effectively, I tend to think the exams / grades are getting easier to pass. Which is a shame, when students work hard.
 
Frank Silbermann
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Adrian Wallace:
In the UK the term "Public School" referes to the top 200 or so independant schools in the country. These are the old traditional exclusive establishments who groom their students with the assumption they will attain positions of high office whereever they choose to work. These establishments are the absolute embodiment of the English class system and encourage an air of superiority amongst their students.

No wonder socialism is so popular in the UK! People of the lower classes don't feel they have a chance, and many people of the upper classes feel guilty for having enjoyed special privileges.

In mainstream America (between the two mountain ranges, plus the southeast), social class is much more fluid. In a career, an elite educational background can get you in the door, but then you have to perform or (given our lack of employment security) you may find yourself quickly tossed out on the street on your ear. Private schools are mainly set up by the pious who object to the watering-down of religion in the general society -- and certainly does not connote any association with society's elite. Sure, we have a sense of social class, but that's based mainly on behavior and is not so sticky. (Thus, we might consider a family to be "low-class" if it devolves into pleasure-seeking vice, petty crime, and laziness.)

I suppose we do have a more rigid social hierarchy on the east coast, north of Virgina, with private schools that cater to people based on their wealth or connections, but that region is atypical and no longer truly American in culture. (Come to think of it, that area seems to be the center of gravity of American socialism, or what exists of it, so I guess that's the exception that proves the rule.)
 
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

I suppose we do have a more rigid social hierarchy on the east coast, north of Virgina, with private schools that cater to people based on their wealth or connections, but that region is atypical and no longer truly American in culture.



Thats quite an interesting comment - the area that was the original 13 states is no longer truly American? What is truly American?
 
Frank Silbermann
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Originally posted by Steve Wink:
Thats quite an interesting comment - the area that was the original 13 states is no longer truly American? What is truly American?



It's quite ironic, isn't it? But in those states (the original 13 colonies north of Virginia, at least as far north as Massachusetts), descendents of the inhabitants of those original colonies have been almost completely drowned out by massive immigration over the last 150 years, radically changing the culture of the area. In Brooklyn, New York, for example, it would be almost as startling to discover that your neighbor's anscestors fought in the Revolution of 1776 as to hear that she was a full-blooded Iraquois or Mohawk Indian.

As to what is truly American, I'd say de Tocqueville gave a pretty accurate description in his study. It's not a racial thing, but rather a question as to whether the people have an outlook on life -- social, religious and political -- that shows a strong continuity.

I draw an analogy to language. Certainly, the English spoken by people in Missouri is not identical to the English spoken in the days of Samuel Clemens, but one can still see the strong links. Similarly, though the social, political and religious values in rural Missouri are not identical to those of the 1840s, it is easy to see the similarities, and that there were no sharp discontinuities caused by population replacement.

On the other hand, there is a sharp discontinuity between the English spoken in the rural South Bronx of the 1840s and the Puerto Rican dialect of Spanish spoken in those neighborhoods today. And likewise, the social, political and religious values in Boston or New York today bear little resemblence to those of 150 years ago.

To say that Boston or New York is the true America is as silly as saying that an Algerian ghetto of Paris typifies France.
[ December 06, 2004: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
 
Marcus Green
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With reference to the idea that the GCSE exams are easier to pass than the O'levels they replace.

O'levels were Norm referenced. That meant that the grades were divided up according to a percentage basies. E.G 10% got A, 20 got B, etc etc. GCSE exams are criteria referenced, thus if you can do this, this and this you will get such and such a grade, irrispective of how the other students perform.

With norm referenced exams there was no way to tell if teaching had improved, the exams are a gateway with movable goalposts, if teaching improves and students perform betterthe score for a set grade will get higher.

Under a criteria based system if the test stays the same and teaching improves then grades will go up. Now I don't know if the actual tests are easier or harder, but I am confident that if students had started getting lower grades there would be a suggestion that students were less smart or teaching had declined.
 
Helen Thomas
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With reference to grammar and music, did you know that Mandarin Chinese speakers tend to be more gifted musically ? Yo! Yo Yo Ma.

It's something to do with whatever tone you speak an English word, it doesn't change the word's intrinsic meaning whereas speaking in Mandarin the tone defines the meaning.

Gregorian chant(sung Latin) is particularly lovely to listen to - The Monks at Ampleforth Abbey released some CDs recently.
 
Alan Wanwierd
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
No wonder socialism is so popular in the UK! People of the lower classes don't feel they have a chance, ...



Actually Frank, In general in most of the western world the "left" of politics usualy gains more support from the educated so-called "achievers" in society and the "lower classes" tend these days to be more likely to vote for the political "right".

This was quite clearly demonstrated by looking at the polarised results of the US election where the areas associated with wealth and money (i.e. west coast and NE states) tended to vote more democrat and the rest of the more "rural" states voting more republican.

I think similar patterns would be observed in UK and Australia, but are harder to identify due to more homogenous demographics.

Strange how this this breaks the idea of people voting for reasons of self-interest - you'd expect the wealthy to vote for the "right" side of politics since they benefit the most from it and the less wealthy to vote for the "left" since they have the most to gain - turns out the patterns are the reverse of what you'd expect!!

(I wont even try to explain why I think this is the case since the post would certainly, [and perhaps justifiably] be deleted almost before I could finish typing it )
 
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I have never seen evidence to support that historically in the UK. Though it is arguable that there the UK Labor party is no longer viewed as being "of the left".
 
Helen Thomas
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Map had already covered melody and Mandarin intonation in her blog.

Melodies and intonations: tonal languages and perfect pitch
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by Marcus Green:
I have never seen evidence to support that historically in the UK. Though it is arguable that there the UK Labor party is no longer viewed as being "of the left".



Its all relative I suppose. What one person views as "right" could be seen as "left" by someone else. In American politics the Democrats are seen as being left wing, but if they were put into just about any European country then they'd be seen as being right wing.

The other problem is that left and right are just too limiting. The phrases try to encompass too much of economic and social plans into two simple words, which is clearly not going to happen. One example of where it falls down is a certain African leader (who shall remain nameless for the sake of non-deletion of thread) who has left-seeming land redistribution tactics and right-seeming racist policies. Where should he go on the left-right axis? Instead of just one axis we need 2,3 or even 50 to come anywhere near attempting to describe the political spectrum.
 
Helen Thomas
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Public schools tend to be more disciplinarian - they tend to believe that sparing the rod will spoil the child, while not exactly using physical beatings they are put through bootcamp discipline. And pay for the privilege. The benefits of old boy networks far outweigh the negatives.
Comprehensives vary between concentrating on the individual or totally ignoring them.
[ December 07, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
 
Peter Rooke
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Self-interest - you'd expect the wealthy to vote for the "right" side of politics since they benefit the most from it and the less wealthy to vote for the "left" - Adrian Wallace



But maybe under a more open (right wing?) prosperous market the less wealthy have more chance of becoming richer. I'm not sure if the UK party is Left wing or not, we just get spin. Best of all they tend to steal ideas from their conservative opposition, then take the credit.

bootcamp discipline - Helen Thomas

- Yes, I've seen this - as I once did some instructing for the CCF (Combined Cadet Force), quite a lot of discipline - felt sorry for them!
[ December 07, 2004: Message edited by: Peter Rooke ]
 
Helen Thomas
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Language log:

"Cantonese is proper Chinese. Mandarin is the language of school teachers and government officials. It is useful to learn, but you wouldn't use it with your friends. Cantonese is the language of intimacy and real life."



I could kill for some of these right now. No Dim sum in London till after 10:30 AM.
[ December 09, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
 
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Originally posted by Helen Thomas:
Language log:

"Cantonese is proper Chinese. Mandarin is the language of school teachers and government officials. It is useful to learn, but you wouldn't use it with your friends. Cantonese is the language of intimacy and real life."



how so Hundreds of years ago, the area of the province Guangdong(Canton) was far far away from where economic, culture..etc were relatively strong. The good side of such weakness is, while the culture in the centre of the country were influenced by outer elements during 9th century to late 18th century(let's say, cultures from western, northern..., especially Mongolia), the Chinese culture in Guangdong remained relatively pure. The ancient mainstream Chinese pronunciation may be only found in Guangdong (I'm ignoring the dialects) today. The Mandarin pronunciation is greatly influenced by northern nations, in fact pretty far away from the original Chinese pronunciation already. Today if you read ancient Chinese poems in Mandarin, you'll probably find some syllables are not well conceived. But that's not true. When you read it in Cantonese, all the hidden musical beauty emerges. In my mind, Cantonese is for poems and ancient essays, but it's hard to say Cantonese or Mandarin, which is more proper.

Ach I urge to learn Cantonese!
 
Frank Silbermann
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Helen Thomas: "Cantonese is proper Chinese. Mandarin is the language of school teachers and government officials. It is useful to learn, but you wouldn't use it with your friends. Cantonese is the language of intimacy and real life."

I tend to agree, but for the more important reason that Cantonese is the dialect spoken by most Chinese immigrants to America from 1850 to 1950. It's the pronunciation closest to our traditional spelling of Chinese names (e.g. "Peking", not "Beijing") and is the cusine of the Chinese restaurants I knew while growing up.

This is similar to the reason that the Neapolitan and Sicilian Italian accents are the most authentic Italian accents, and their cusine the most authentic Italian food. (Northern Italians sound almost like Slavs to me.)

Helen Thomas: Public schools (private schools in England) tend to be more disciplinarian - they tend to believe that sparing the rod will spoil the child, while not exactly using physical beatings they are put through bootcamp discipline. And pay for the privilege. The benefits of old boy networks far outweigh the negatives.

Maybe the bootcamp discipline is not such a negative, and maybe the government schools do children no favors by tolerating rebellious behavior. Back when American government schools were more self-righteous in demanding obedience from pupils, they were much more successful in producing literacy.

In fact, around 1980 when our Army was so short of volunteers that they were forced to accept illiterate high school dropouts (and technical weapons manuals were being rewritten in comic-book format), they had great success in teaching their recruits to read in only six months after over a decade of government school failure. Basically, these soldiers under the supervision of drill sergeants were ordered to sit at their desks and study for hour after hour, with fifty pushups required for any breach of discipline. Many soldiers were shocked and elated to discover that schooling was not beyond their intelligence. One was quoted as gushing, "I had no idea I was capable of learning this much!")
 
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