I have been reading this book School Choice: How parents negotiate the new school market in Australia lately. A book on why so many parents are turning away from public schools in Australia to the more prestigious selective academic schools, private schools and Christian and Catholic schools.
There are several types of schools in Australia. Generally, parents have a choice of sending their kids to one of these schools mentioned in the above paragraph.
The selective academic schools are the most sought after ones. They are public schools that accept only the best-performing students, Students have to sit for selective school-designed tests in order to gain entry. As a result an entire coaching/tuition industry is born out of the strong desires of parents wanting the best for their kids.
If the kids cannot get into selective academic schools, they can then go to private schools where the facilities are much more better than those in public schools. The fees can be as high as $30,000 and that can be the amount of annual income for an entire working class family in Australia!
Parents who can't afford private schools and are yet not willing to send their kids to public schools would choose Christian or Catholic schools which are said to be more serious in instilling a strong sense of discipline and responsibility among their students.
Finally, there is the public schools. Public schools' standards can vary greatly. In 'good' suburbs, the schools have better performing students than those in suburbs with people from lower socio-economic groups. One major determining factor of the property prices in any suburb nowadays is the standing of its public school. "Is my property in the 'right' school zone or not?" would be the most important considerations in most buyers' minds.
Most of the parents written about in this book believe that schools play a very important role in their kids' future success. As a result, many parents actually struggle very hard just to send their kids to what they would recognize as good schools. Stretching it. Pushing it. At all costs! What I sense from is more fear than intelligence.
I believe one should always live within his/her means. If I can only afford public schools, what's is wrong with public schools? Not accepting public schools when all I can afford is public school means not accepting myself. And if that is not the worst punishment I can inflict upon myself, I don't know what is.
I did not read this book page by page. After reading it on three separate sittings in my daily commute, I think am through with it already. I'd rather spend my time reading Warren Buffett's annual letters to his shareholders which I find so much more educational and interesting. I want to know how he thinks and views the world. He certainly was not obsessed with the question of which schools he should send his kids to. Warren himself went to a public school. His children and grandchildren also went to the same school he attended.
Nearer to home, Dick Smith too went to public school. his children too went to public school which Smith believes is more relevant to the real world.
Even nearer to home, Peter Costello and Tim Costello are two famous brothers who went to public school throughout all their school years and look at their achievements and wonderful contributions to their society and humanity (especially the younger Costello, Tim).
The best thing we can do for our kids' education is to educate ourselves first. What is the use of sending them to the best school only to have them come home to find out more and more that their parents are intellectually deficient not because they are inherently stupid but have given up on personal development altogether!
"The man who don't read has no advantage over the man that can't read." says Mark Twain.
Wake up, parents! I'm reminding myself also. This herd mentality must be gotten rid of!