Tony Little, the head of Eton, shares his insights into building character and resilience

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 21.29.35According to the Daily Telegraph, Tony Little, the headmaster of Eton is to give advice to state schools on how to build ‘character and resilience’ and share with them insights on how children can make the most of their opportunities. (http://bit.ly/Wo9cM0)

Here is a quotation from the article

Eton’s headmaster highlighted a range of methods used at the school to help foster character and resilience amongst children, including:

* A range of school societies where students are charged with booking high-profile speakers.

* Tutorials – including those with pupils of different ages – where students develop speaking and debating skills.

* Developing stronger, more trusting relationships between teachers and students by encouraging staff to do more sport, music and other extra-curricular activities with pupils.

These are of course amazing insights into how to make a supportive school. There is absolutely no way that the feckless idiots who run state schools would ever have thought of running a sport or music club to build confidence. That idea would never have crossed their minds.  Once the 3.15 bell sounds the teachers are hot-footing out of the school gates in their battered Fiat Puntos either to go the pub and drink themselves stupid on cheap lager, or straight to a Communist Party meeting where they can share Trotskyist fantasies of the defenestration of Michael Gove from the second storey of one of his beloved academies.  And who would have thought that a tutorial where a student gets targetted help from a teacher could help build their speaking and debating skills?  Tony Little has shown even in these 3 short bullet points that he has a masterful grasp of education, that his school is genuinely innovative, even revolutionary in its approach. These educational insights are like manna dropped from heaven for the troglodytic state sector; just like the ambassador in the Ferrero Rocher advertisement he is ‘spoiling us’ and  his intervention is surely set to make a major difference to state education, and if he has to wait even a year longer for his knighthood then this is a travesty.

Luckily for those of you benighted lot who work in the state sector, I have managed to get a copy of his keynote at the ‘character and resilience’ building event. The audience is mostly teachers and management from state schools.  Leaking it is clearly, ‘not good form’, but in the interests of the wider public good I have decided to publish some extracts.

Speech beginneth here…

Welcome to Eton School. Founded in 1440 by Henry VI, this school is the best in the world. Many of you in this room probably dreamed of coming here. After having chatted with a few of you over coffee, I can assure you that you would have been really welcome here (as long as your parents were excessively rich and could afford £30,000 fees per annum).

But I am not here to talk about Eton. No I am here to share with you the secrets of how we build our boys into the strongest, most resilient people they can possibly be.  The education secretary (Mr Gove) has shared with me the problem of state education. It appears that none of your students have any backbone, they are feckless, idle, brittle individuals unable to withstand the rigours of life and lacking in even the basic talents to get on. And you teachers in the state sector are clearly unimaginative fuckwits unable to solve even the most basic of educational problems without having them spelled out by rich blokes like me. It reminds me a bit of the British Empire, but that’s material for another lecture….

Our boys are not like your boys (or girls). Our boys are men; even before they are boys, they are men. Let me share with you some of the ways in which we build them into well-rounded resilient individuals, the kind of people to lead this country back to greatness and conquer all on the international stage.  The chief value we instil in our boys (sorry men), is one of complete resilience. Only the other day one of the house masters told me of an incident. He had found a boy sitting on the stairs to his room looking sad. When he asked him why he as sad, the boy held out his phone.  It was an iPhone 4.  This poor boy had a phone which was at least 6 months out of date, and all of his classmates had iPhone 5 (the big ones with the fuck-off 64mb memory), yet fate had dealt him the cruellest of blows and he did not have this latest phone.  But did this boy give up? Did he break down? No, after a bit of a pep talk from the house master he took his iPhone 4 and declared proudly that he was happy to have this phone and he would make the best of his situation whilst he could.  And this is the spirit which makes up the Etonian, the stiff upper lip, the ramrod backbone, the refusal to let personal tragedy get one down.

This ‘make do’ attitude is prevalent right across the school.  As you some of you may be aware, we only have a 9 hole golf course at the school, whereas nearby Wellington has an 18 hole course.  For any other school this dent to the pride would be terminal, it would be a situation never to be recovered from, but somehow here at Eton we can rise above the physical assets of the school (limited though they are), and look to a higher spirit guiding us.  I imagine many of you …. “colleagues”  also teach in schools where your golf courses only have 9 rather than 18 holes. Some of you will be saddled with swimming pools which are not Olympic size, so your boys will struggle, like ours do, in a purpose built, heated, all year round 25M pool. And what I say to you is this, dig deep and build the character of your students with lots of one-to-one time exploring the life of the mind and intellectual pursuits.  You should spend, as our tutors do, at least 2 hours with each boy per week, over a cup of warming cocoa and a buttered slice, getting to know them and tailoring a curriculum exactly to their needs. You will find this approach brings real dividends.

Thank you very much for visiting Eton to see how we do things here. Now if you could all leave quickly by this back door here, we would be very grateful. We’re not trying to get rid of you or anything,  tt’s just we have some prospective parents coming round in an hour or so and the place smells, erm, smells a bit of ‘chav’.  We obviously would like to get the servants in to give the place a good airing. Don’t get me wrong, I like the common people as much as the next fellow, it’s just I’d rather not have my school reeking of them.

Speech endeth, and hapless state school educators declare themselves amazed by the results produced at Eton with such meagre resources. They vow to return to their schools and start music and sports clubs forthwith. 

Upon returning to their schools they realise this is a really stupid bloody plan, as Gove has already sold off their playing fields and any musical based nonsense is not included in the eBacc, and if they don’t make the grade with that then Gove will have them converted to an academy quicker than they can say ‘enemies of promise’.

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