A bad lesson in us and them
I guess it shouldn’t have been such a shock to hear at a barbecue yesterday that boys from one of Melbourne’s most exclusive boys’ schools had been heard sledging boys from another school at a cricket match with the chant “Your dads work for our dads”.
And to hear that students from a co-ed school based in an area with a large Jewish population had “Where are your foreskins?” chanted at them, was even more confronting—implying as it does that among those educating our blue-blooded ‘elite’ this kind of anti-semitism is tolerated to the point where it can be yelled aloud.
Of the three sledges raising eye-brows around the out-door setting, the third—a chant back to to the “Your dads” crowd of “Where are your women? Back in the kitchen!”—was possibly the least offensive.
At least it implies the kids yelling it have views dating far enough into last century to accept that it’s OK for women to work…unless you’re in the high-status bracket where not-working can be in part a signifier of wealth and class.
Still, even though it seems to have been intended as a kind of back-handed compliment to the independence and efforts of their own mums, many of whom work, I don’t think it says a great deal about the mindsets of kids we as a community need to emerge from school as something approximating rounded, thoughtful human beings.
The class slagging, for example, puts the lie to the intensive marketing by such top-tier, and highly selective schools, that they’ve come out of the dark ages and are now all about “diversity”, a broader education and giving anyone a chance.
You’d have thought these schools who sell themselves with the promise of pumping out the “leaders” of the future would be a little more focused on producing leaders with a level of maturity, rather than just another lot who think it’s entitlement and connections to the old-school tie network that get you ahead—and your woman belongs at the stove.
Putting down your oppposition based on its school being located in a Jewish area, or its parents not owning as much acreage on Melways Map 59, or it’s mothers’ perceived disempowerment may be all part of the fun in the minds of high-spirited students.
But I would argue that in allowing such displays of arrogance, schools who claim to play such an important role in shaping the minds of the next generation of decision makers are failing in their duty to the kids, and the community.
As for the kids growing up believing they have a right to win at life because their parents are in the “employer” class; well I hope it’s not true, but I certainly feel they’re being set up for a fall.
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