azn_jack_fiend: (Default)
[personal profile] azn_jack_fiend
I just figured out why I never got interested in Harry Potter!  About ten minutes ago, actually.

All right. My family was very anglophile and we lived in the UK for a bit. But my parents were also super major hippies and we sort of roamed around, all over, for many years coachsurfing and living on farms. And I was raised on stories of what horrible horrible hellholes English boarding schools are. My mother told me they were full of awful loneliness and brutal bullying and rape (my parents were always very frank about that sort of stuff). I know this may sound completely incredible, but ever since I was very young, my mother told me over and over again that I should be lucky that I wasn't born into an upper-class English family, because if I was, I would be kicked out of the house at the age of 8 and only allowed home on holidays, and what a horrible cruel anti-child social practice this was and she would never, ever do that to me even if she had the money. To this day I don't know why she was so obsessive on that point; she had a more-or-less privileged childhood in the US but certainly didn't go to a boarding school.

I think for many people, the setting of HP is really what sucked them in. I can empathize with that, coming from the perspective of a childhood Tolkien reader. But the first time I saw the HP books appear, I must have had a kneejerk EWW ENGLISH BOARDING SCHOOL DNW. And besides the setting, nothing else grabbed me afterward.

Date: 2011-07-22 05:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neo-prodigy.livejournal.com
That makes perfect sense.

Date: 2011-07-22 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
My partner went to boarding school in England and... apparently all the stories are complete tosh (much to the annoyance of slasher friends!). I asked. :) It was fine, just a school and a good one (if it wasn't people, wouldn't pay for it!). And you don't have to be rich or upper-class to go to them either - there are scholarship places available for kids from other backgrounds, and a lot of parents save up to get the best schooling for their kids (as M's parents did). They also tend to start at 11, not 8.

A lot of the kids who went/go to boarding schools are those whose parents are working abroad in some capacity - a colleague's parents sent her private because they were working in Bahrain; my partner's parents were with the Malaysian diplomatic service (his dad was Deputy High Commissioner to London for a while) and got assigned to somewhere hellish next, so they got him and his sister into boarding positions here so they could get a good and consistent education.

(if I ever have kids, they'll likely go to my partner's old school, although that's no longer boarding or single-sex. I've been through - and worked in - the comprehensive school system here - no thanks! Given the choice, I'd have been off to board in a heartbeat!)

tl;dr - don't be freaked by the boarding school thing, it's actually fine, or at least no more prone to abuse than any other educational system! It's just very much romanticised in fiction in ways that comprehensive schools never will be!

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