I watched this programme about social mobility and the well off getting the best chances in life on Tuesday. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00yb5kv
I’d also watched the one about the politicians the week before telling me some seriously worrying statistics; that only 7% of us go into private education but over 60% (I think it was) of politicians are privately educated and come from wealthy backgrounds. So basically this means that it is the well off, who have no idea of what life is like for those who scramble to pay even basic bills, making policies that suit the well off.
It was exactly what I feared but liked to think wasn’t the case. That those children from wealthy backgrounds are the ones who will get the highest paid and powerful jobs, partly because they can afford to work for free, with internships and through work experience whilst their living expenses are paid for by their well off parents, and therefore get one foot in the door to elitist employment. And partly because they will have come from fee paying schools where creamed teachers treat creamed pupils with respect and inspire them to learn, and they will have fee paying accents and live in the capital where there are the best opportunities.
What about the rest of us then? We can’t all live in the capital. We don’t all have fee paying schools available even if we did manage to have jobs in the poorest parts of the country that enabled us to afford them. And what does that say for the educational opportunities for the children in the rest of the country, in the rural areas, in inner cities and in places where good schools and the chances of decent employment, or employment at all, are becoming rarer? Why should we not have fee paying standards in ALL schools?
It appears to be a vicious circle. Widening the gap between the haves and the have nots by educational opportunity and the clustering of wealth into elitist areas.
But wait a minute! Wealth isn’t everything is it? Is that where we’re going wrong – only educating for wealth and creating dissatisfaction in those who have no chance of it? And there is more than one sort of wealth.
There is wealth to be found in loving what you do and having the opportunity to do it and be paid for it even if it isn’t millions. There is wealth in actually knowing what you love in the first place. There is wealth in being comfortable in your own skin instead of always hankering to be in a skin that’s promoted by others to be desirable but which doesn’t fit. There is wealth in having loved ones around you and friends you can trust supporting you rather than colleagues who would trample over you in attempts to get the so-called best positions. There is even wealth in being poor because sometimes being poor you have to dig deep into yourself, you have to be inventive in the way you manage your life, you have to look beyond money to find personal fulfilment. And it is only personal fulfilment that truly makes you wealthy. That and love. You can have all the wealth you want but the Beatles were right in saying money can’t buy you love. You need love in your life more than you need money. Perhaps we should be educating for love too.
The most well paid jobs and well paid education may on the surface appear to be the goal to aim for. But sometimes you get to a point when you realise, if you really thought deeply about it and stopped buying into commercial attitudes, that maybe you’re shooting into the wrong goal!