Miss Debrett on... School Bores
Pity the childless guest who is unlucky
enough to be seated next to the out and
out school bore. They can look forward
to an evening of relentless monologues
on the subject closest to the doting
parent's heart: school admissions
policies, waiting lists, league tables,
SATs, A levels vs Baccalaureates,
university admissions, and so
on… ad infinitem.
There's no bore like a school
bore. As soon as the child is
reasonably sentient (and sometimes long before) the obsession kicks in. Agonising examinations of the comparative merits of various schools, endless note-swapping with fellow bores, sudden 'conversions' to eccentric religions (well worth it if the child can gain admission to superior faith schools) - the list goes on.
And like all bores, the school bore is blissfully unaware of the
magnitude of the preoccupation. Despite all signs to the contrary,
school bores assume that everyone else shares their fixation on all
things educational. They blithely expect that their fellow human
beings are equally riveted by academic travails and triumphs, and
can think of no finer conversational subject than little Charlie's
SATS scores, Rebecca's private tuition or Jemima's GCSE
Of course, school bores evolve from the finest, and most unselfish, of motives. Their abiding passion is to obtain the best possible education for their children. This is undoubtedly a praiseworthy aspiration, but somewhere along the line, the parental ambitions are blown out of all sense of proportion.
If you sense a nascent preoccupation with all things educational, take a long, hard look at yourself. Remember that many people do not have children at all, and others have happily put schooling behind them. The subject is therefore of absolutely no interest to them, and should be avoided.
Be aware that many parents of school-age children do not share
your passion; certainly, they want their kids to do well, but they
have a relaxed attitude to schools, and a calm confidence that
their children will make their own way successfully. Parents like
this will find your endless musings on admissions, exams, results,
grades and streams troublingly pushy and competitive.
If you cannot control your obsession, your best policy is to befriend some fellow educational bores. There are plenty of them around, and you can while away many a happy hour animatedly discussing the comparative merits of your children's schools. Just don't inflict it on the rest of us…
Miss Debrett's Top Tips
- Remember that education is irrelevant to many people - especially if they are childless or parents of grown-up children.
- Your one-track obsession with your child's progress may have evolved from the best motives, but it will come across as pushy and competitive.
- If you can't contain your preoccupation with all things educational, find some like-minded people to share it with.