[ilds] English Public Schools

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Oct 7 14:15:39 PDT 2009

Sumantra, yes, the English public schools ("private" in American  
terms) are superior educational institutions and excel at preparing  
their students for the university.  They have other reputations,  
however, and it's always interesting to read Orwell's "Such, such were  
the joys" for another perspective.  The essay describes the social  
climate at St. Cyprian's, before Orwell attended Eton.  Durrell  
probably got a good education at his, before he went out into the  
world.  He seems to know his Latin.  What he missed and could have  
profited from, I think, was the critical exercise of going one on one  
with a tutor.  A situation where one writes a weekly essay and then  
has to defend it word for word, assuming that was and is the process  
at one of the Oxbridge colleges.  If he had done that, he might have  
avoided some of his questionable remarks on literature and the sciences.


On Oct 7, 2009, at 1:04 AM, Sumantra Nag wrote:

> Message: 1
> Date: Sun, 4 Oct 2009 12:21:23 -0700
> From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> Subject: [ilds] Oxbridge
> "As Sumantra notes, many of these writers barely got through  their  
> schools
> and ended up with third class degrees."
> Bruce, I think many British writers of the pre-WWII generation who  
> got poor
> degrees or no degrees at Oxbridge, did well enough academically at  
> their
> schools to get into Oxbridge, and in some cases with scholarships or
> exhibitions. They were, probably, good students at school. Many  
> schools, and
> particularly the well-known ones which regularly sent a number of  
> their
> students to Oxbridge were equipped to train their students well  
> during their
> final years in school, and for the entrance exams.
> Did Lawrence Durrell have access to such training at the school  
> where he
> was? He was provided with opportunities for private coaching I  
> think. But
> the discipline within a school with a tradition would normally force a
> student to come up to his potential and the "peer group" too would  
> have an
> influence.
> I think you might find that levels of academic application or  
> performance
> changed between school and university (Oxbridge in particular)  
> probably
> because of the attractions of a broader life and more freedom  
> offered at
> university. In some cases people may have already started writing  
> seriously
> and this is what they concentrated on and neglected the greater  
> academic
> effort required at university.
> Of course there are writers who did well academically at university  
> too.
> Sumantra

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