Perhaps what struck me worse than the generalised opinion that the ‘product’ of certain educational institutions are destined for a career in the bottom rungs of the rat race society is the fact that there are some who are ready to write them off as not being able to perform as well as (if not better) than those who have been through the ‘accepted’ norms of higher tertiary education.
Based on this fact alone, if the biasness is already there, do we even take into account their personal characters? Do we discount the fact that everyone are human beings by birthright, and thus, need to build their own characters, so as to survive in society?
Truth be told, this ‘Elitist Mentality’ is one that many people are guilty of, and it doesn’t even need to be nurtured to flourish.
When I was searching for a suitable preschool for the boy, I wasn’t really surprised to note that many people recommended ‘high-end’ ones. One of the most interesting arguments that I have encountered was that a parent chose to enrol the kid in a well-known school simply because there seems to be less chance of her children mixing around with other kids from dubious backgrounds. At that time, when I first heard of this avenue of thought, I wondered out loud to the husband what exactly is the definition of a ‘dubious background’. Are the elite rich (or those who can afford to send their kid to an expensive school) exempt from this select group of people? Does it mean that a rich man’s kid is less likely to engage in fights, and playground bullying? Are they less likely to instigate mischief or create trouble?
The husband, in his usual dismissive way, laughed and said: “I would rather he mixes around with riff-raffs and be exposed to the ‘real’ world, rather than be wrapped up in a bubble of greenbacks, rainbows and roses. It is our duty as parents to then steer him in the right direction, and make sure that while he is aware of the world in all its dirty glory, he does not fall prey to the temptation, and is able to hold his own."
For us, it’s not about protecting him from the world. It’s about teaching him values, and making him understand that while he is taught the virtues of humility and respect, there are others who are not lucky enough to have adults who care enough to teach them what they need to get by. The world is not simply black or white... grey is also a colour.
I’m not arguing the fact that perhaps there are other privileges which these schools are able to provide for in which middle and lower tier ones don’t, but what I find hard to accept is simply the mentality of many parents who enrol their children there NOT because they believe in the methods of foundation learning, but because they feel that it will be a better environment for their children based on the fact that 90% of the students will come from the upper echelons of society, financially. The other 10% cannot really afford it, but they scrimp and save so as to provide their children with the very best, based on what they feel will be best for them.
I’m not going to adopt a ‘holier-than-thou’ stance and claim that I do not worry about how my kid will turn out in the future, and hope that his life partner will be able to at least ‘see’ things from our perspective. It is no secret that certain ‘value systems’ of a family is unique to each unit, and at the risk of sounding elitist, I do believe that in a majority of cases, values differ between one socio- economic level to the next. What I would like to emphasise is that I will not treat or form an opinion about his choice of friends based on their financial backgrounds or educational levels per se. I’m totally fine with someone who shares our values, but have no paperwork to boast of.
The hubs and I work in companies which place great importance on people as individuals, and not simply what they have on paper, so we are totally aware of how some who may have the string of titles behind their names measure up to those who have worked their way up from the bottom. We are all aware that while education forms a basis to an increase in aptitude, knowledge without compassion and humility is simply - a search engine.
Some may argue that an 'elitist mentality' is pretty necessary in this day and age. We are expected to have optimal performance and optimal efforts put into work, play and parenting for optimal results. I have found myself in that trap as well, numerous times, more of my own concerted expectations of myself rather than societal pressures. While I concede that the optimum results can be unattainable, I do try to come as close to it as possible. That said, I do not and will not look down on anybody else who may, perhaps, perform to a lesser degree. After all, expectations are set only on oneself, and there is the all-important clause to take note of: Optimum results, according to whose / what benchmarks?
It doesn't mean that just because a person has humble beginnings, he / she is less privileged and cannot be a person of higher standing in society in the future. It just means that they may just have to try harder because they may not have the little stepping stones which may aid them in their journey. What I cannot understand, is why people seem to already form an impression of a person, simply based on their Alma mater, or by the uniform they wear.
I enrolled BabyMoo in a school based on a number of factors. The accessibility to my in-laws’ place (just in case), the general ‘feel’ I have about the school when I visited it, the teachers, the ratio of students to teachers, it’s mission statement, and the fact that we are comfortable with the school fees. Of course, as parents, we would want our children to have the best, and we are constantly making sure that they have the right 'start up' in life. But is it really necessary to look down on other families who may not be able to accord the same privileges on their children? Worse, do we then view these children as being lesser equipped to handle life?
Ultimately, I think the child education factor still lies heavily on our shoulders, because we are not parents who expect a school to do what parents are supposed to. Our parents disciplined us, taught us right and wrong, and ingrained values in us. School was merely a place where we were taught to read and write, used the values we learnt from our parents to play well with others, formed friendships, and (tried) to not break any rules!
More than anything else, we want to teach our son to be adaptable. We would rather he be street smart and savvy in his everyday dealings, because not everyone is as straight as an arrow. That is something which perhaps even the most elite school is not equipped to handle. It's all good and fine if BabyMoo has a BA, BS, MBA, MD, PhD or MSc, but if he has no heart, humility and compassion, we have failed as his parents. Life goes far beyond society standings and paper qualifications.
I am not going to bother to compete with a person who has the elitist mentality, because chances are, their character is such that they will always find a way to put themselves above me. They will try to make us see that they are bigger, brighter and smarter than us, and will not hesitate to be condescending to us in every available opportunity.
I dread to think that moving forward; we are going to see and encounter more and more of these people, because perhaps, they were brought up that way. With the direction which the society is heading, it is almost quite impossible to change a collective mindset.
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