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Oxbridge too far (continued) - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Oxbridge too far (continued)
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shermarama From: shermarama Date: November 16th, 2008 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
See, I went to a private school til 16 and then went to my local sixth form college for A levels. The school I went to tried very hard in terms of spiffing uniform and making us do speech & drama lessons but it was mostly rubbish. It was a long way away so the massive amounts of time I spent on a school coach every day cut me off from local kids and I spent a lot of time with no-one to talk to in the evenings and hated it. I couldn't wait to get out. The sixth form college was like the start of my life, as far as I was concerned. The teaching was *much better*. There were real people doing real things, in a real town that was a short bus ride away from my house. I could go record-shopping in lunchtime. I worked in my dad's warehouse on a Saturday morning. I went to Durham, (because I didn't get into Oxford, of course) and that felt like a stifling regression to schooldays; I moved to Brighton, and it felt like life had started again. And really, of the three universities I attended as an undergrad, the best teaching and the most useful courses were to be found at the ex-poly, Brighton.

In short, I find it hard to be jealous of people that went to top schools; how can I be jealous of someone who, at seventeen, didn't know how to navigate across a town, or get a train somewhere? I really don't like the idea of exclusive private schools and the universities that are extensions of private schools because, well, when do you get to learn about the rest of life, then?
j4 From: j4 Date: November 16th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I find it hard to be jealous of people that went to top schools; how can I be jealous of someone who, at seventeen, didn't know how to navigate across a town, or get a train somewhere? I really don't like the idea of exclusive private schools and the universities that are extensions of private schools because, well, when do you get to learn about the rest of life, then?

Well, I'm glad you're not jealous (and I hope I never suggested that anybody should be) but my lack of navigation skills was nothing to do with the school; most other people of my age did all kinds of things on their own. It was basically a combination of the fact that we lived in a tiny village with very few buses, so I basically had to get lifts if I wanted to go anywhere (no, I couldn't drive), and my parents were a bit over-protective in a basically self-perpetuating way (they didn't trust me not to go places on my own, so I didn't go anywhere on my own, so I didn't know how to find my way around, so they were probably right to assume I would get lost...). I don't see how that would've been any different if I'd gone to the state school! All the schools were in the nearest town with any shops in! And I went record-shopping at lunchtime from school (Friday afternoons at the bric-a-brac market), but that was the town I knew. I didn't know how you were supposed to suddenly know your way round a new town -- I still don't know how some people seem to do that so easily! -- and I don't think it had ever occurred to me that it was okay to buy a map and carry it around with you, because I'd never known anybody who did that (actually, people still laugh at me for doing that, but I don't care any more).

When I went to Oxford for real, I started going places and doing stuff. Oxford in no way felt like an extension of school -- it was like a new life. And I went on a train on my own to visit friends in the first Christmas holidays, and of course it wasn't that hard, and I was a bit cross that it'd been presented to me as something difficult and dangerous when actually it was fairly easy, but mostly I was just delighted that there was this whole new world of Being Able To Go Places! With a Railcard! Paying for tickets with money that was actually mine! (That is, student loan... so, er, not actually mine.) And to me Oxford was in a huge great big city (the one all the Londoners whinged about because it was, like, so tiny, and there were no proper clubs, blah blah blah), it was new and wonderful and different and full of exciting stuff. But being at Oxford is the next instalment...

As for "when do you get to learn about the rest of life" -- um, when does anybody ever stop learning about it? Different people learn things at different times and different rates. I learnt all sorts of things at school, some of them practical and useful and some not; but mostly I learned how to learn things. And to be honest, given that it took me one train journey to learn how to get a train somewhere, I'm quite glad my school taught me things that it would take me longer to learn now, and left me to figure out the easy stuff for myself.
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