Eton prepares you for life? Yeah, right

You won't see half as much of the real world as you do in my old state secondary

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The Independent Online

"But if I had to guess why Etonians do so well, it’s because the whole school is a sort of dress rehearsal for real life — or the sort of life Etonians can expect to lead".

This come from a piece in the Spectator by a 16-year-old Etonian. Well written? Yes. Eloquently explained? Yes. Nonetheless, the article makes blindingly obvious the hugely skewed world view an environment such as Eton encourages. As a product of our country's state education system, I believe that Eton symbolises not success, but inequality and, often, narrow mindedness.  

The idea of young men such as the writer of this article going from prep school, to Eton, to Oxbridge to the House of Commons should, in a meritocracy, be unacceptable. The overwhelming social, cultural and academic advantage that this elite life path gives to such people is simply incompatible with the premise of a fair society. 

My school, which I have just left, was a comprehensive state academy in Lambeth, and it represented the real world. 

You could see this in many different ways: I was educated in a bubbling, metropolitan mixing pot of hundreds of cultures and languages. There were people from middle class backgrounds, like myself, and also asylum-seekers and others facing high levels of poverty. What this taught me and my schoolmates was that diversity and hardship exist and must be dealt with. Two concepts which, if I may say so, are not likely to be prominent at Eton.

Unfortunately, the author of the Spectator article and his classmates may be inclined to think that  (nearly) everyone is white, upper class, and wealthy. The thought of someone from this background running the country, having ever only interacted with the nation's 0.1 per cent, is frankly a little sickening.

I am not, however, saying my school experience was perfect. I did feel physically intimidated at times, and perhaps the classes weren't always taught to an A standard. I would not in a million years, however, trade my experience with a boy of my age that attended Eton. This is primarily because I am aware of the real world. Seeing two Indian brothers share a plate of baked beans for lunch every day, for example, helped form a strong sense of social responsibility. These are the qualities we need in our leaders, not the ruthless, relentless and utterly selfish qualities that begin in Eton and manifest in Parliament and the City. 

I am 18 now and just beginning my university degree. If it wasn't for my school experience, I might not have the urge I feel to make society fairer. If I were to go in to politics, it would be this motivating me, not the childish, destructive competitiveness that Eton all too often indoctrinates.