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In the 21st century British society is still shaped by a private education system devised to gentrify the Victorian middle classes and produce gentlemen to run the Empire. Yet it is not on the political agenda; it is rarely the subject of public debate, and we remain blind to its psychological implications. Can we afford to go on ignoring this issue? Will we continue to sacrifice the welfare of our children to satisfy our antiquated social aspirations?
Why do the British still send their children away to boarding school? What are the attitudes underpinning this practice which mystifies foreigners? What does it mean for a child to be sent away from home and immediately have to survive in an unfamiliar custom-ridden world, without love, family life or privacy? Will it be ‘the making of them’, or will it be a trauma from which he or she may never recover?
In this thought-provoking book, now a classic, psychotherapist, psychohistorian and former boarder Nick Duffell reveals the bewildering dilemmas confronting the boarding school child and discovers a dark secret at the heart of the British psyche. Drawing on three decades of working with Boarding School Survivors, he describes the process towards living beyond ‘strategic survival’, and offers pointers towards a philosophy of education that honours the needs and the intelligence of the natural child.