I chanced upon a documentary on Eton College, probably the most elitist among schools and colleges, which can count a few British PMs and Princes as their former students. One of the trivia which caught my attention was the Headmaster's name, Tony Little. His name reminds me of Richard Small who is also involved in education of the elitist kind in Malaysia. Anyway, two words, 'nurture and inspire', which Mr. Little said caught my attention. To think about it, isn't that what education should focus on? To know about the college, I searched their website and found his Foreword...
"Through the six centuries Eton has been educating boys much has changed, but the essence of school life has remained as described in the mid-nineteenth century by William Cory, an Eton Master.
He wrote that at a great school it is not just knowledge that is acquired, nor even the 'shadow of lost knowledge' that later protects you from many illusions, but most importantly the 'arts and habits' that last for a lifetime.
Our primary aim is to encourage each Etonian to be a self-confident, inquiring, tolerant, positive young man, a well-rounded character with an independent mind, an individual who respects the differences of others. By the time he leaves the school, we want each boy to have that true sense of self-worth which will enable him to stand up for himself and for a purpose greater than himself, and, in doing so, to be of value to society.
This website ranges widely across the school, from how to apply for a place and the financial assistance that we can offer, to the curriculum and activities, to our history and to much else. I hope you find it interesting and helpful.
Looking at his office, I was amazed at its simplicity: a large wooden desk and in the background, an ordinary wall cabinet filled with books. I am sure some of our colleges' principals or headmasters have grander offices. But being British, upholding tradition and educational standards must be their priorities. The college was set up in the 15th century and the courtyard still has its original cobbled stones.
A sum of 13,000 pounds was mentioned as its annual college fee. I cannot help comparing this with a first-year fee of 11,500 pounds in a British university in 2004, for a science degree course. I always find fees in relative terms. What seems exorbitant to some is very affordable to the rich. But then again, to gain entry into such an exclusive college is a totally different matter. Not everything can be bought, though some colleges and universities naturally welcome large donations. For example, Harvard was set up by someone who contributed a large sum of money. To a certain extent, if the donation is large enough... maybe it makes a difference. Oxford University has opened its doors to more Chinese students from China, but this could be political to some extent.