Captains of Industry

Here’s a nice little out-of-touch conversation, between three private schoolboys on a Sydney North Shore train.

Schoolboy 1: I feel sorry for the suckers in state schools.

Schoolboy 2: Their parents have no idea.

Schoolboy 3: How do they expect their kids to become captains of industry?

This was overhead by Sydney Morning Herald reader John, from Umina Beach (not published online). Three things strike me:

  • The goal of becoming a “captain of industry” is taken as a given. No thought of becoming a doctor, lawyer or scientist, let alone an artist or historian.
  • Only a privately-educated kid could ever become a captain of industry. Apparently. That’d certainly explain why so many of such captains are self-centred out-of-touch arseholes.
  • Private education is a choice available to everyone. No thought that perhaps some families can’t afford $20k a year, or that some families might not believe in the private school ethos of privilege.

When I wrote my piece on the Citizenship Test, I was subsequently slagged off in Crikey because a reader imagined I held those views on privilege. I guess he couldn’t imagine someone going to an elite private school and escaping that kind of programming. I believe that’s what they call “a failure of the imagination”.