THANK YOU SIR. AFTER YOU MA’M
By: Sinenhlanhla Mthembu
“Good morning Ma’am. Good afternoon Sir. After you ma’am.”
These are gestures that are usually expressed by kids that go to private schools. But do these kind of gestures carry through even after private school life?
One can question and argue the concept behind “private school culture”. Does this subculture exist? Oxforddictionaries.com describes a subculture as, “a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture.” The question then, is, do behavioural patterns of a child that goes to a private school, and a child that goes to a public school, differ? A number of elements highlight these systems of behaviour.
The culture of good manners is instilled in private school individuals as early as primary level. All private schools aim to produce independent, disciplined men and women.
I, myself went to a private school, having first attended a public school – I discovered that the opportunities offered are different. Private schools focus more on holistic schooling, and actively strive for world class academic standards.
It is every parent’s wish to give a child the best education possible. Private schools are privately funded, and because of this, they are able to attract the best educators. Also, there is a larger focus on the individual as classes tend to be smaller.
Mrs Zimmerman, a teacher at St Mary’s DSG, Kloof, explains how private schools offer much more challenging work. “IEB examinations are difficult but we prepare our students accordingly”, states Zimmerman.
Services, languages, and the cultural diversity offered at private schools play a huge role in this subculture. A foreign language like Latin is not normally offered at public schools. The emphasis on cultural activities increases exposure to, and appreciation of, art history. Activities such as overseas travel, ballet, Spanish dancing, and a multitude of different sports – create and nurture this subculture. All these factors play a major part in nurturing the well-mannered behaviour we experience in malls, and wherever we bump into private school alumni.
The private school subculture is based around character and discipline. Dr Mnguni explained that he takes his children to private schools because he wants to give them the best opportunities to succeed and how such exposure will allow his kids to see things differently.
Does this now mean public schooling does not meet such standards? No, it simply means that there is, perhaps, a different emphasis.
“Spiritually, I was groomed and saw greater emphasis on prayer because I was allowed to pray, attend chapel, and get confirmed – which was in line with my family’s beliefs,” said Vumile Msweli, a private school product.
Msweli, who is now a private banker at Investec says that private school taught her independence, and moulded her into a good citizen who is fully active in society and proactive in bringing change.
Private schooling allows for networking amongst relatively wealthy families, which undoubtedly shapes one’s mindset about money- what is required to be successful and what success means. Private school prepares you for a certain kind of world, and this may not be the real world.
Good versus evil is thoroughly discussed too, as are the consequences of each decision made. Private schools instil an acute awareness of conscience.
A focus group consisting of private school graduates and public school graduates discussed a simple question- “Is private schooling worth it?”
A huge debate ensued, and it became evident that some of the public schools didn’t even know that private schools write Independent Examinations Board examinations. The debate heated up when one participant suggested that not knowing such information is ignorance. The debate escalated more when someone said she shares lectures with students from private school and there “ain’t nothing different.”
The moral of the story seems to be, we should all be thankful for our education, whether private or public. I rest my case or as a Catholic schooled child would say, Amen!