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The Forum > Article Comments > Don't let schools lose their best > Comments

Don't let schools lose their best : Comments

By Stephen Lamb, published 24/11/2006

There appears to be little reason for increasing the number of selective-entry schools.

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I grew up as a bright kid in a depressed area of Brisbane and, thank god, managed to get into the one selective school which Queensland then had - Brisbane State High School.

The advantages went beyond merely having an academic "hot house". As a primary school student in my local area, was ostracised because I was more interested in reading at lunch than I was in chucking rocks at cars. I was a nerd, not one of the cool kids. The smart-but-unpopular kid is virtually a cliche.

I got into my selective high school and I was among peers. We were *all* kicking ass academically and, lo and behold, nobody was ostracised for wanting to spend their lunchtimes in the library.

To suggest that bright students should be forced to remain in crap public schools as "pilots" is asking these bright kids to sacrifice opportunities for the sake of other students, who will most likely ostracise them as a "nerd" anyway, at least until they need someone to cheat off in tests. It's not much of a sell when the alternative is a school with other bright kids, with teachers who are used to engaging with bright kids, and where achievement is celebrated rather than being cause for embarrassment.

If standard public schools want bright kids, then the schools themselves have to find ways to attract those kids. The schools have to offer enrichment programs, learning resources, private study spaces, and most importantly an answer to endemic bullying. They have to put as much effort into the talented kids as they do into the strugglers. The schools have to realise that in today's consumerist world, if they want to recruit the best they have to offer the best. The private schools realised this years ago.

Thank god for select schools.
Posted by AnthonyMarinac, Friday, 24 November 2006 9:19:06 AM
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Stephen's questioning of selective schooling raises the current fashionable concept which has society's head in the sand; "the level playing field".
People just don't have the same skill, intelligence, comprehsion and talent, and it is misguided compassion to attempt enforced equalisation.
Surely the selective system has the same teachers as other government schools, and it is the academic quality of the student which differs.

What is wrong with that?

As long as the less competent in every field of endeavour are not represed deliberately, and are given the chance and help to improve to whatever standard they choose, then society can function with less greed and envy.It is important to know the reasons for the standard we choose, then set our aim accordingly.

Don't let youngsters go through the frustration and anger of striving to be better than everyone else.
Help them set their sights at their level of ability, do what they can well, and live happily.
That is the skill of an educator.
Posted by Ponder, Friday, 24 November 2006 9:38:31 AM
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Selective Schools are a croc.

I was a bright kid in a disadvantaged school and i am very glad i had people of eclectic abilities all around me.

Succeeding in life is not just about hitting the books or fostering an academic hothouse, it is about the power of interaction, social skills, leadership skills and communication with people of differing skills and values.

We dont want to breed elitism, why place a bright kid in a non realistic environment where they have less chance to shine due to competition and they loose their confidence and belief in themsleves.

We have universities for this reason, my university was elite and that is where the hothouse can and does exist.

We dont need to shelter our children away from the world at a critical age, we need them to exist in harmony with a diverse world.

If you felt you where better off by going there, good on you, but i bet you would have been better off if you stayed put and delt with things, and got through those difficult years. You may be better for it and your ability to lead may be better.
Posted by Realist, Friday, 24 November 2006 9:49:33 AM
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The fatal omission from this article is that it pays no attention to what the parents of academically gifted children want. If they want to send their children to selective schools, and there are not enough such schools, many of them will send them to private schools. The decline of the public system, already very apparent, will accelerate until all public schools become the residual schools they already are in many suburbs of Sydney. Unfortunately for the lefties, there is no monopoly of schooling, and government comprehensive schools have to compete for students with private and selective schools, with the weakest going to the wall, and the devil taking the hindmost. The main benefit of private schooling, which is not mentioned much, is that disruptive students can be expelled.

If advocates of government schools really want to increase enrolment they should advocate the establishment of a series of borstals (with copious corporal punishment) as a deterrent to disruptive students who can be sent there and a guarantee that government schools are worth attending.
Posted by plerdsus, Friday, 24 November 2006 10:21:01 AM
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Top marks Anthony, but I wonder how we stop this rubbish from infecting the entire system.
We always had selective schooling with the academic kids, taking the more difficult courses grouped together. That is, until some twit started the idea that streaming was bad for the less capcapable.

It then intensified when only 10% of kids went on to seinor high school. The rest went to work, & learned something more usefull than music, dance & art for a couple of years.

The push to keep kids at school longer was used to keep them off the unemployment statistics, by a "B" grade government. It had nothing to do with the kids welfare, or future. The same way we got so many on disability benifits, for a broken fingernail.
All this has done is dilute the pool of teaching skill, & fill the schools with kids who don't want to be there.

Perhaps, now that we have such a high level of employment, we could start getting these kids doing something usefull for the community, & themselves, by allowing them to go to work, at an earlier, & more suitable for them, age.
This way we may get the best teachers teaching the kids who want to be taught. Wouldn't, that be wonderful, for all concerned.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 24 November 2006 10:43:43 AM
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My family moved around a lot, so I went to several high schools, two were private, one of which was selective, and the others were regular public schools.
I can say categorically that the selective school was light years ahead of all the others, in terms of culture, achievement and student enjoyment.
The author is suggesting that bright students should suffer for the benefit of those who are less intelligent, which to me sounds like socialist lefty rubbish.
Nice idea, let's dumb down the population even further, so everyone is as stupid as each other. What a demented concept.

Gifted students need an environment they can shine in. Not to be responsible for the education of others. In my experience, those with lesser academic ability are more likely to behave in a disruptive manner, and hassle or ridicule kids who are bright, not learn from them. This causes those with an intellect to pretend to be dumb, so they "fit in". This is the reality of the classroom, and socialist notions of fairness & equality have no place in education.

The world is a competitive place, so why molly coddle kids into thinking it's not? They'll be in for a rude awakening when they leave school if we make them think all things and people are equal, since they're clearly not.

Where will the next generation of innovators come from if the progress of gifted students is retarded by their peers, just to make some communists feel better about their' children's lack of academic ability?
Intelligence is like having a full head of hair when you hit middle age, you've either got it, or you don't.
Posted by Stomont, Friday, 24 November 2006 10:57:51 AM
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