Thursday, 17 May 2012

Suing for lack of a silver spoon

This – this is just too infuriating for words.

So this girl, Rose Hyphenated-Something, is suing – yes, I repeat, suing – her (sort-of) old school, Geelong Grammar School, "after she failed to qualify for her preferred university course."

She’s “seeking damages” because she didn’t get the grades she wanted to get into the law course she wanted – which, let’s not fail to point out, is not just any law course. It’s a law course that requires a 99.7 ATAR. You really couldn't make this shit up:

Yesterday, Ms Ashton-Weir told the tribunal a teacher at Geelong Grammar has criticised her for using words that were too long, which had left her fonused and had made her doubt her ability to write essays. She become "quite distressed" when her English marks began to fall.

Her mother, Elizabeth Weir, is also suing the school for lost income and other expenses. She said she gave up her chocolate fortune cookie business - which she had expected to make $450,000 over three years - because her daughter moved from Geelong to live with her in New South Wales.

So obviously I’m a little biased because it’s my alma mater, and I’m possibly a wee bit defensive, but let’s consider some important facts to consider context:
- this girl didn’t even graduate from GGS, she graduated from some TAFE school in Sydney.
- she got glandular fever. I’m sure that had some impact on her marks.
- she was "disorganized, often absent from class and placed on "internal suspension" several times." SEVERAL TIMES. That shit's not like detention you guys, they don't just give it out willy-nilly for stuff like not doing your homework. 
- um, I don't know how to break this to her, but law @ USyd - not the only law course out there. As pointed out, she could have studied law somewhere else.
- perhaps most importantly: SHE’S A GODDAM STUDENT. Education, for goodness sake, is NOT a one-way street! Your school is not a factory! It cannot MAKE you a high-achieving student if you do not put in the effort – it can only HELP you to become one if you put in the hard yards. 

I'm a little confused about chronology, since this was in 2008/2009, before she transferred to a Sydney school. She is now 18, and in her first year of uni. Which, if we are assuming that she went straight to uni, means this was year 9/10 for her. Which makes this whole case even more preposterous, because if it was in year 11/12, I would allow that these are significant years in her education, particularly leading up to her ATAR (which seems to be the crux of the problem.) But no - she attended a different school for goodness sake! She had another opportunity to turn it all around, even if GGS did fuck her studies up!

Now I will concede that, if she felt did not receive "the support [she] need[ed] to excel," that's another matter entirely, and is problematic. Because that is one of the key responsibilities of any school, arguably moreso with a private school, given that they usually have greater opportunity to provide this (but not to make assumptions), and promote themselves as such. 

HOWEVER, the student also has to take some ownership for holding up their half of the deal. The implied agreement in any education system is: you try, we'll support you. You give, we'll give. You get out what you put in - if you're putting in more than you get out, there's where you have a problem (and I won't deny that can be a problem within the Aussie education system). But from the sounds of things, Rose wasn't putting in a whole lot...

OK so I might have given up on trying to be reasonable about this because there is so little that’s reasonable about it. Let’s summarise:


What really gets my goat is that this girl might be a fantastic student, and good for her, but she is clearly avoiding taking any responsibility or accountability for her own education. The school can only do so much for her - if she's getting internally suspended, clearly there are wider problems. And what makes it all the more frustrating is that this is clearly an exercise is mud-raking and buck-making - and it's working! (Because the media love any excuse to bring down an elitist institution like GGS, especially as one of the most expensive schools in Australia).

I’m honestly too angry to be articulate because this is just such bullshit, so I’ll let this brilliant Punch article sum it up:

It emerged in court that Ms Ashon-Weir was belittled by teachers too common to understand her sophisticated Chaucerian vocabulary. This caused her to miss classes, lose confidence and misplace her favourite polo pony, Jester.

In late breaking news, reports of this sage are said to have filtered through to the Palace, and Prince CHarles is said to be most pleased indeed. According to a source, the Prince said "right-ee-ho then. Now I know who I'll sue if I never become king."

My favourite headline is definitely “Rose’s bad grammar."

Does anyone else find this ludicrous, or am I being over-sensitive?



Anonymous said...

You are absolutely NOT being over sensitive, it's the stupidest thing ever and such an insult to people who consider that school their home!

Robert Evans said...

1 vote for ludicrous!

Sharan said...

No this is weird. How can you sue for something like this? people don't get into colleges every single day. You've actually broken this ridiculous argument down properly. She's nuts.

mollierose said...

You're not being over sensitive at all, especially seeing as this girl didn't even attend GGS in her VCE years!! Clearly if you didn't get the ATAR you wanted something went wrong in the years you were taking 3/4 courses... Not when you were studying year 9/10 coursework.