Selective elitism

Tuesday 21 November 2006 12:28 AM

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.