“Noel Coward was a charmer.
As a writer he was brahma.
Velvet jackets and pyjamas,
“The Gay Divorcee” and other dramas.
There ain’t half been some clever bastards
(Lucky bleeders, lucky bleeders)
There ain’t half been some clever bas-tards.
Einstein can’t be classed as witless.
He claimed atoms were the littlest.
When you did a bit of splitting-em-ness
Frighten everybody shitless
There ain’t half been some clever bastards.
Probably got help from their mum
(who had help from her mum).
There ain’t half been some clever bastards.
Now that we’ve had some,
Let’s hope that there’s lots more to come”.
(“There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards”, Ian Drury and The Blockheads)
Yes, all right – the title of this is meant to be ironic. But I am actually clever. And I know I’m clever because I actually realise the irony.
We have a tendency to presume that successful people must be clever. After all, they are successful so therefore they must be clever because to think that luck could play such a large part in the way the world works would blow a large whole in the whole capitalist system. Not to mention a whole lot of a religions which base their product on the idea of retributive justice.
But it’s quite simple really. In a competitive system, some people succeed. Why do they succeed? Because they outperform others. Why do they outperform others? OK…
At this point your answer may vary between:
- They worked hard and never gave up
- It was God’s will
- They were smarter than everyone else
- They knew someone; the system is corrupt
- They were just lucky
- One or more of the above in combination
- Something that I left out, which a reader will point out
- Something I left out, which nobody notices and I’ll be able to consider myself a success because nobody pointed out what I’d missed.
Whatever you believe, it’s probably harmless enough UNTIL you expect everyone else to believe it too. Which, of course, brings me to the Christophers that were the subject of this blog.
The first is Christopher Bantick whose little article in the paper last week attracted a response. To quickly summarise, he praised Chinese style education which he admires even though he works at a “successful” independent school. And he knows that his school is successful because the parents who send their children there do so because it’s successful. And they know that it’ll get good results because it gets good results and who cares about anything but an ATAR score anyway. As Mr Bantick so eloquently put it in his article:
“These parents are buying access to university. Fact.”
Now, I’m sure that some people may have a problem with that by itself. However, it was this next quote that allowed me to tell myself how clever I am and convinced me that I didn’t need any other confirmation than to simply ask myself what a clever bastard I am: (Yes, irony again. Stick with it people or I’ll have to do what Christopher’s school does and get rid of you all and get better readers so I can get good results!)
“I have yet to meet a parent who sends their son or daughter to school so they can pass some “happiness” index. It’s all about the ATAR”
Personally, I don’t actually send my son to school because it’s all about the ATAR. I don’t remember asking his prep teacher if all this time spent in “play” would hamper him when he eventually attempted Year 12. Neither did I grow concerned when he developed friendships with other students that these might become a distraction in Year 12.
I send him to school for a whole range of reasons. But nearly all of them are so that he can have choice in his life, so he can succeed at what he does and at the end of it all, so that he has a far better chance of being happy than if he were as limited as he’d be if just stayed home watching TV and listening to my wisdom.
I suppose I could have sent him to the private school where Mr Bantick teaches, so it could be explained how a school which relies on wealth and privilege is really good, just like those Chinese schools which are run by Communists.
As for the other Christopher. Mr Pyne. He knows that he’s successful because he’s Education Minister. And as he said in Parliament the other day, what he says gets on TV and nobody can hear the Opposition. That’s clever, isn’t it? That’s success. I don’t have to worry because what I say gets reported.
I wonder if Mr Pyne realises the irony. Nah, he’s probably just clever because he knows he’s on TV. Like “The Bachelor”… Now who would have thought that after spending all that time together and after that romantic proposal that this wouldn’t be a marriage made in heaven? Who would have thought that Channel 10 would still run the final episode even though they knew that the marriage wasn’t going to go ahead?
But hey, “The Bachelor” like Christopher Pyne appears on TV. So they both most be full of quality, right?
Full Disclosure: Christopher Bantick was one of my supervisors when I was a student teacher. He warned me that one of the Year 8 students never put pen to paper. At the end of my first class, this student had written a couple of paragraphs. I handed it to Mr Bantick and asked if he wanted a sample of the kid’s writing. Maybe he thought I was being too clever… Whatever, he spent the rest of my rounds telling me that I relied on the kids liking me and that my lesson plans were terrible. He was absolutely right. I don’t remember him ever him making any suggestions how to improve my lesson plans. I learned that in later rounds.
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