Selective elitism

It would be fascinating to observe the reaction if Professor Stephen
Lamb’s contention against academically selective state schools
(Opinion, 21/11) were applied, say, to sport. Let’s try it. Let’s
abolish all selectivity in state school sport. No more “1st” or “A”
teams, comprising the most talented players. Rather the most able
players will take the field alongside the rest. Down with elitism.
The better players will be content, knowing they’ve inspired the less
able to maximise what potential they have.

Apart from the question of how much Professor Lamb actually knows
about Victoria’s two existing selective schools, the most glaring
irony is the reverse elitism of his own ideology. Everyone gets the
opportunity to maximise their potential – except the most talented!
Two of our children have attended, respectively, Melbourne High
School and Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School. We have witnessed the
contrast in outcomes for very bright students, between underachieving
through under-stimulation, and excelling in an environment where it’s
‘cool’ to do so. Under-challenged students are as likely to disrupt
others as to motivate them.

We’re a funny lot, we Aussies. We prize and foster elite achievement
in sport, music and technology. Just don’t get too smart.

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