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Psychological issues at private school, help

(7 Posts)
Jonno1 Sat 04-Oct-08 02:02:14


I was unfortunate enough to spend the first two years of secondary education at a very poor performing state school, in a deprived area. At age 12 children in this school still could not read or write properly.

I was able to get a place at a private school at 13+ , based on my interview strength rather than my below average exam results.

Having started at the private school, I discovered that I was at least 2 academic years behind my peers.

While I was at the school my father decided to take up a job as a security guard at the same private school.

We were not well off so I never questioned why he took up the job there. But I did not feel good about it at the time. It was a school full of children from affluent backgrounds.

Throughout my time at the school I was never able to apply myself and eventually I dropped out of two universities without completing the courses.

For reasons I dont understand I was simply not interested or able to apply myself when it came to education.

Is it possible that my 2 year handicap and my fathers job a the school somehow contributed to my poor performance in education?

Quattrocento Sat 04-Oct-08 02:37:38

Oh this is a tough one. We're all the product of life experiences and our own characters. So undoubtedly it would not have helped you to be in a poor school but equally people can do well from bad schools - it's just harder. The experience of being a poor child in a wealthy environment is one I can relate to and it's not easy.

It sounds as though it left you with issues around self-esteem - don't punish yourself for formal educational stuff now. If it matters to you, or will help you through your chosen path, you could maybe go and do a degree now?

Good luck

TotalChaos Sat 04-Oct-08 07:20:59

I think being 2 years behind your peers would have had an enormous psychological effect. Possibly you switched off as a defence mechanism - e.g - I didn't fail because I'm stupid, but because I didn't try??? Presumably your dad took the job there to get a fee discount?

Jonno1 Sat 04-Oct-08 11:37:13

Thanks for the input guys. Its something I cant figure out myself.

My dad didnt take the job for a fee discount. There was no fee discount as he was not contracted to the school itself. He took it because it was a comfortable place to work and walking distance from home.

Is it a normal/reasonable thing for a parent to take such a job at a private school their child is studying at? When there are no financial benefits to it.

I realise there are more serious problems in the world, but it is something thats always been on my mind.

findtheriver Sat 04-Oct-08 12:40:12

Agree with Quattro that we are all a product of our experiences and character. For most people, home environment is a bigger influence than school, but it seems that in your case your school experience is dominating.

It's impossible to unravel all the complex threads which make us who we are, but it's useful to have insight into the bigger factors.

It's impossible to answer in your particular case, though as you were in a particularly dire school, it may be that your self esteem would be even lower had you stayed there. So, your private education, although it didnt suit you in many ways, might have been the best of the two options available to your parents.

Generally, I think children find it easiest to operate when they feel equal to their peers in terms of interests, ability and others factors like parental income. There's been another thread (as per usual!) about the pros and cons of private schools, and my line is that unless there was a very good reason for sending my child private (ie they had a very specific sporting skill, a specific special need, or the local state school was dire) then I would use state. And a big factor is that I feel it's important for a child to be amongst their peers without it being a skewed sector of society (and once you're talking about ability to pay, it by definition becomes a narrow slice of society).

Overall, yes, I think there is a danger with some private schools that they spoonfeed too much, and there is not enough attention paid to developing skills such as independent learning etc . I certainly came across people at University who had 'overachieved' at private school and had grades which didnt reflect their true ability and they also found it incredibly hard to believe that they could achieve on their own merit, on a totally level playing field.

But having said that, I'm sure your parents made the decision they felt was best for you, and tbh I wouldnt tie yourself up in knots trying to find a reason for things. Better to accept that yes, you have issues with self esteem and motivation, but these don't have to define who you are - there is a world waiting out there and you need to look forward not back.

Hope that helps

SueW Sat 04-Oct-08 12:50:40

I took an admin job at my daughter's independent school and worked there for three years without receiving a fee discount. It was quite commmon, partic for mums, to have non-teaching jobs there.

The main reason I took it was because I could walk from home and the hours were suitable. In fact, I resigned from another job and took a 30% pay cut to take it up. The other job was across town though, a 12 mile journey which could take 1.5 hours at rush hour. In spite of the pay cut the work-life balance was much better and since I didn't have petrol costs and wear and tear on the car, the net income worked out pretty much the same.

ScummyMummy Sat 04-Oct-08 12:55:36

Have you ever had any counselling to unpick some of these issues, Jonno1? Sounds like you could use a self-esteem boost and some unconditional positive regard might help!

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