March 29, 2009

"What counts as a swot varies from school to school..."

"... but the threshold for what is constituted 'boffin behaviour' tended to be lower at poorer-performing schools."

Underachievement in Britain.

13 comments:

fcai said...

Maybe they don't wish to be seen "acting white".

Jason (the commenter) said...

I remember seeing students in California being interviewed on PBS. The Asian students had their parents pestering them about their homework everyday. But not only were the Hispanic students picked on for doing well by their piers, but their parents often wanted them to leave school and help with the family.

Jason (the commenter) said...

fcai : Maybe they don't wish to be seen "acting white".

In Britain I think they call it "acting gay" (but with worse words). Americans often think well of the British, that they're mannerly and polite. But in comparison we're the ones who are mannerly and polite. They're like something from a dystopian science fiction novel.

fcai said...

"They're like something from a dystopian science fiction novel", or from Washington, DC, our nation's capital. Of course the story of black students refusing to learn as news in the 1980s. I am sure it's all better now, what with all the money that is spent in that school system.

I hear it is so good now that Obama sends his children to a public school. That's real progress, I'm gonna tell you what.

m00se said...

Freakin' awesome...

I had to hide in the A/V room all thru high school in order to avoid being beaten up by the varsity football players.

I showed them, however. I stayed drunk thru my mid-30's!

Elliott A said...

When success is seen as something worthy of disdain and is penalized by draconian taxation, it is no wonder many will grow up shunning "success".

Christy said...

They start training 'em early for union membership, don't they?

Frodo Potter said...

What is so sad about the attitudes of minority youth thinking that learning is “acting white” is that one of the great examples of Black Manhood, Malcolm X, was a firm believer in education. He wrote in his autobiography, “I knew then that reading had changed the course of my life.” Yet if some half-a$$ed rapper or hip-hop mediocrity says that reading is “acting white,” minority kids believe them. They believe a pretty boy rap star who rides in a limo, but they don’t believe a hard-as-nails Black Man who went though life b*lls up and looked death square in the eye. Pathetic.

That’s one of the reasons I have always had a lot of respect for Will Smith; he knows the score. There are a handful of movie stars and athletes who value education, but most of the people in the music industry are just pathetic. To paraphrase Cynthia Tucker, you have to wonder who are the real Uncle Toms.

Maguro said...

I think the word "boffin" should get its own tag...it's magnificent.

Ann Althouse said...

"Boffins" does have a tag. I just forgot to put it on. Thanks for the reminder.

Ann Althouse said...

Does "swot" need a tag?

rhhardin said...

They dealt with enthusiasm in my day by piling on homework until it disappeared.

johnlouis said...

I attended 10 schools during my education, moving around a lot but spending quite a lot of time in England.

At the English public sector schools I attended ('Public School' is used in English as a synonym for 'Private School' - it can get confusing for foreigners) I was often known as a boff or boffin. Only one institution (The Colchester Royal Grammar School) had a student body which didn't frown at academic achievement.

The Grammars are a wonderful institution. Based on the old 11-Plus exam, they would selectively grant access to the highest achieving pupils at age 11 to a secondary school with the very highest standards. It was a pure meritocracy and offered an amazing standard of schooling to the poorest students.

Of course, Socialists have been complaining about them for years and Labour Government succeeded in putting a few to the sword.

Why is this relevant? Because the same intellectual bankruptcy which leads children to deride success in their peers is prevalent in the political class and its approach to schooling.

Socialists have maintained two falsehoods in their crusade against Grammar schools. Firstly that rich kids have an advantage because their parents can pay for expert tuition to get them in. This is an outright fantasy as not a single one of my friends and acquaintances from the Grammar came from a family above lower-middle class income. I was by far the most affluent pupil at that school being the son of a successful barrister.

The second falsehood is that what needs to be done is for the gifted students to be put into lower achieving schools so they can drag their contemporaries upwards. I don't think I need to explain how naive, inhuman and illiberal such a position is.

The existence of derision for 'Boffins' is symptomatic of precisely the sort of society which Britain's 20th Century socialist policies engendered. Drag the gifted down to the baseline. It doesn't matter how poor one child's education, as long as another child isn't doing any better.

It was working in a State Comprehensive (A 'Public High School' for US Readers) and reflecting on the Labour party's Grammar school policies which led me to discard my old 'progressive politics'.