September 28, 2010

Likewise, the American mercantile class knew that a bunch of softy, panty-waists would not be capable of running Wall Street or heavy industry, so they imitated the English model with basic-training style boarding schools for the future leaders of American commerce and industry.

That was what it was like when I and earlier generations of the family went to boarding school “€“ never “€œprep school.”€  And it was for six years, beginning with the first “€œform.”€  You were dumped off at the age of, say, eleven, and there would be no question of you having any say in the choice of school.

Flash forward a few decades and let’s see what has happened.  The once vaunted American boarding school, founded on the ascetic English model, has become a feather-bed of luxury with sporting facilities that rival an Olympic village.  There’s coeducation, hence fornication and drug use, a predominance of Asian students, homo/lesbo clubs, and political correctness to beat the band.

And so we now encounter the absurd autumnal trek of the upper-middle class New York family loading the Range Rover or the company Gulfstream for the tour “€“ the object of which is for a 12 year-old to select his/her own secondary school. It’s only one of the most important decisions in a young person’s life.  The schools are wise to this and address their pitches to the kid not to the parent.  So, you can forget about cold showers, drafty dormitories, chapel and the virtues of monastic asceticism.

Oh no, it’s all cakes and ale (figuratively speaking), pizza deliveries, cell-phones, Apple computers, weekends off.  It’s Lord of the Flies on steroids.

Will it produce the leaders we need?  Who knows? I”€™m not going to my class reunion.  Instead I”€™ll be where there is no political correctness—on the Mara. So might I have glimpses that will make me less forlorn: hear the hippopotamus bellow and have sight of the wildebeest stampede.


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