Tuesday, March 19, 2019

About university

The whole sorry Brexit saga is at once tragedy, farce, soap opera and an interminable lecture about Parliamentary procedure, so sometimes it’s worthwhile to get an outsider’s view on the whole bloody mess. Here’s sometime Dubya aide David Frum’s version of articulate, informed sighing. He points out what I’ve said all along, that very few of the votes on either side were really about the EU per se; the leavers on both right and left were touting their own flavours of nostalgia, and those who wanted to remain pushed against that. He also trots out the statistic that a very important indicator of voting intentions was whether or not you’d been to university, with graduates voting two to one to remain and high-school dropouts (do we have “high-school dropouts” in the UK, David?) offering a similar statistical profile in reverse.

Which suits both sides nicely, since remainers think leavers are thick and leavers are sick and tired of hoity-toity experts. Except, of course, the idea that being a university graduate, even from a so-called elite establishment, imbues you with any particular level of cleverness is utter bollocks. I’ve known many people – a disproportionate number of them privately, expensively educated — who learned nothing at school or university bar a misplaced confidence in their own talents that, paradoxically, became a marketable skill in itself.

And on that note, we read about the lengths (and depths) to which rich Americans will go to get their moronic spawn into the best schools. Donald Trump has been unusually Trappist on this story, for some reason; and I don’t know whether this is any reflection on his own college days, because he got Michael Cohen to force the institutions to keep his grades secret. The only inference I can draw is that his marks were astonishingly high and he doesn’t want the fact to leak out in case it damages his credibility with his base. I mean, clever people are the problem, aren’t they?

PS: In related news, the Ivy League-educated son and grandson of millionaires, whose entire career has been in his dad's companies, tells us how bad the elites are.

PPS: More on the university entry scandal, by Amanda Hess in the New York Times:
You sense, in some of the stories to emerge from these fraud charges, an odd form of intergenerational class conflict, in which wealthy people who did not grow up pampered... are now trying to impose middle-class values (a good education is important) on superrich kids who see little use for them... Many kids compete for elite college slots in an attempt to gain access to a higher social class, but some of these parents are surely seeking the opposite effect — a degree that suggests their kids are not simply coasting on their inheritance while cultivating vanity careers. They are heaping money on their progeny in an attempt to correct for how rich they are.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

I suspect that the people in the UK who didn't go on to university aren't the ones unable but those who - for traditionalist reasons, or possibly under parental pressure - went into the careers their parents did. They may have voted Brexit also for traditionalist reasons, or because they realise caving to their parents has left them horribly deskilled/under qualified, and unable to compete in the wider market.
Or I may be overidentifying, having had a parent like this who I ignored, but my stepsisters listened to...