Tuesday 12 December 2017

The 'survivors' of Malory Towers

Is boarding school a glamorous or damaging experience for a child?

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

What one generation prizes, a following generation will disparage. The notion of boarding school was quite glamorous in my schooldays. We read storybooks by Angela Brazil and Enid Blyton, and the Swiss chalet school tales by Elinor Brent-Dyer; we thought it was all frightfully exciting.

I can't remember much about the actual narrative in Upper Fourth at Malory Towers but I can remember reading it from cover to cover and longing to be like its "madcap" heroines. The girls most admired in such genres were always "an absolute brick".

Well now. It won't be long before boarding school is considered to be a form of child abuse. To eject your child from the family circle and abandon him or her to an institution at the tender age of seven, or younger - the late journalist Mary Holland was sent to be a boarder at Loreto, Rathfarnham at the age of three - is now thought to be a source of grave psychological damage.

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