Friday, March 16, 2012

The future of Oxbridge

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read that an inner-city school in London had recreated the study of an Oxford don to help prepare its students for interviews at the elite university.

The deference to Oxford and Cambridge in the UK is quite extraordinary. Rather than impose reform on the anachronistic institutions or encourage young people to have broader horizons, we seem to believe that social mobility revolves around getting a small number of working-class kids to 'share' in the experience enjoyed for centuries by an elite.

The recreation of the room did, however, get me thinking of a possible future for the snooty Oxbridge colleges. They could be reinvented in a theme park, perhaps somewhere like Chatham or Romford. Local people and foreign tourists alike could share in the educational experience for a day, attending mock tutorials with animatronic academics. This way for the seminar on the Sturm und Drang proto-romantics. Down the escalator if you want to get plastered on daddy's allowance and smash up some local restaurants.

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