‘Why is she here? It’s not like her father was here’


Below is an excellent snippit from today’s Guardian: Education. Mary O’Hara describes her path to Cambridge as the first person in her family to continue schooling past age 16, let alone attend a university.

I remember one day, in my first year, walking through college when another student said to my friend: “Why is she here? It’s not like her father was here.” My friend looked at me, looked back at him, and said: “Because she earned it.” It was a defining moment.

(On a related note, one of the English slang words I’ve learned from undergrads is “rah,” which stands for “rich asshole.”)


4 Responses to “‘Why is she here? It’s not like her father was here’”

  1. Rah, see also: Hooray Henry.

  2. 2 robert

    The Brit’s obsession with class, entitlement and victimhood, together with the view, held by all mainstream political parties, that the primary purpose of education is to change society, rather than to enlighten individuals, make for a longstanding and rather unpleasant debate focusing on the socio-economic background of students at the UK’s ‘premier’ universities. Trust me Flip, you don’t want to go there. Just leave them to get on with it. (Though it is interesting to compare the proportions of state-educated undergraduates at Cambridge in, shall we say, 1970, 1986 (like the lady up the grauniad) and the present day). On another tack entirely – Rah as an acronym hardly stands up. Asshole, as opposed to arsehole, is not a UK term of disapprobation; I reckon its onomatpoeia, plain and simple.

  3. Yes — I certainly don’t feel qualified to say anything about the concept of `class’ in the UK, but I find it to be an absolute fascinating cultural feature. Again, there are moral/social judgements that one can attach to one’s observations — but that’s not my place as an outsider.

    I also didn’t get the sense that `rah’ (if that’s the appropriate spelling?) was actually an acronym, but the undergrads assured me that this is what rah “stood for” all the same. But again, the depth of detail to which an English student can describe what `rah’ means has been really fascinating.

  4. Education: an indication of civilization, a repositry of beautiful ideas and the primary source of enlightenment for many. Few would disagree with these aspects of education and it would be wonderful that was all there was to it.

    Sadly, it really does determine the rest of an individual’s life and has well recorded distorting social effects in almost every aspect of daily life. Afterall its not *that* long ago they did away with the compulsory 11+ exam:


    Frankly one should surely be asking onself “If education is this important, why isn’t it more hotly debated *outside* the UK?”

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