Private schools present their students with a more diverse and greater amount of opportunities than public schools. Whether this disparity is because of substantially higher fees paid by parents, disproportionate government funding or alumni donations depend on whom you ask. However, there seems to be a preconditioned sense of arrogance that characterises so many private school students. Although all schools should impart notions of equality and modesty on their students, private schools have a greater obligation to teach humbleness and an astute awareness for the society in which their pupils live. Too often students from private schools enter the ‘real world’ in a bubble of misconceived arrogance that never manages to burst.
The problem is that students from private schools tend to see themselves as superior to everyone else in society. Whilst this is a rather broad generalisation, there is some truth to it. Students who receive private education often take it for granted. Consequently, this elitist ‘boys club’ culture flourishes and seems to set a path for many students. More specifically, there is often an inability for these young adults to break away from their friendship groups established at school and expand their social awareness. Hence, there is a risk that private school students maintain a sense of superiority above others who did not share the privileges of their education.
The event that motivated me to write this piece occurred a few weeks ago when I went to a 21st birthday celebration of a friend that attended a private school. I walked out during the speeches. The jokes laughed at by the crowd of private school kids were described by my partner as “gross.”
Three years later and public school students were still ‘plebs’, Centrelink was created for doll-bludgers and any school beyond the border of Hawthorn or Malvern was an institution for the poor. Nothing had changed despite three years of tertiary education and experience beyond the bubble of a private education. Perhaps call me dull, or perhaps call them immature, either way their school had failed to distil this unsavoury egotism that I doubt will be quelled any time soon.
Private school students are not expressly taught they are better. However, they are not expressly taught that they are equal to everyone else. Equality must be taught in all schools, irrespective of their social status or location. Simply because they went to a private school should not give students a sense of self-righteousness that too often comes attached to their education. Although public schools are not perfect havens of social enlightenment, their students do not graduate with the misconception that government funded schools are for the poor, unfortunate or less-worthy.
Private schools expose students to a different education in comparison to public schools. Students are given more opportunities to broaden their learning experience. At the moment, too many students with this privilege lack the humbleness or perspective to give back to the society that presented them with the opportunity to attend such an institution in the first place.
Private schools must look to the culture that exists not only among its current students, but its graduates, and ask themselves if it really has prepared the young adults of today to lead Australia