So I've been kinda pondering this thing on and off for quite a few months now actually. It started with just an offhand comment made by my mom's boyfriend when I was visiting during one of my college breaks. He mentioned how his brother was taking his children out of private school. He then went on to talk about how this was a good idea because the children would learn how to deal with and be tolerant of more kinds of people, i.e. not just the privileged minority who tend to dominate private education. I didn't ask him to expand on the statement because I didn't really pay it much mind at the time, but the sentiment sort of took on more significance for me as I rolled it around in my mind a bit more. That became moreso the case when I remembered a little while later that my girlfriend had made a similar assertion in the more distant past. She attended public school her entire life (though she admits that her mother wanted to send her to private school but could not afford it), and she in fact currently has a job teaching at her old high school.
My experience with education, on the other hand, has predominantly in the private realm. I only attended public school during my elementary years and only because my parents could not afford to send me to a private school at the time. But once they had their finances straightened out, they were very adamant about putting me into a private school from junior high onward. And while they've never told me this specifically, I've gotten the impression over the years that my parents only waited so long to get their divorce because they didn't want legal proceedings to drain the money that had been set aside for my private school tuition. My whole point is that they obviously believed very strongly that private education was instrumental in influencing my ability to succeed as an adult, and they put forth a lot of effort to give me that opportunity. For them, even if it was true that the insulated environment of private school would make me less tolerant of others, the quality of my education and the overall knowledge I'm supposed attain from a private setting would offset that.
When it comes to me, though, I'm kind of torn between these two viewpoints. First off, I do kind of get the feeling that I am less tolerant of people who are less fortunate or privileged than I am. I'm not afraid to admit that I often do look upon people who are poor or otherwise do not "have their lives together" with a certain amount of disdain. My primary instinct in most instances is to assume that people are in those circumstances because of their own poor choices. And while I do still believe that everyone needs to take complete responsibility for their own life and the outcomes of their actions, as I've grown up, I've come to learn that life consists of the actions and reactions of so many other people. Your will is so infinitesimally small when compared to the will of the collective human population that it is very hard to influence the world in any meaningful way. So maybe I've softened on my original stance as the years have gone by, but I still concede that lack of tolerance is still something of a weakness of mine.
However, I also should note that the quality of the education I got from private school definitely assisted me greatly. I used to compare what I was learning with the curriculum of my friends who attended public school, and many times, I was appalled at how lacking their knowledge was on many things. When I got out of high school, I honestly felt like I had enough knowledge to be prepared for college courses (not to brag, but I did graduate with my first degree with a GPA over 3.9). I don't think this would have been the case had I attended public school. And it isn't just the strenuousness of the curriculum that helped me. My teachers taught me things like how to cite scholarly sources in MLA format and other skills that they really don't teach even in 101 courses in college, skills that pretty much all professors will assume that you have already.
Also, the schools I attended definitely knew that they were catering to students with ambitions which included college and white collar, highly professional occupations, so they offered many mentoring and guidance resources intended to help steer us in that direction.
So I want to get your views on this matter, especially since I know a large part of this site's population is still in high school. If you're in public school now, do you feel that you lack the quality education that will give you the knowledge necessary to really get ahead in college and eventually in the professional realm? If you're in private school, do you feel like you've been insulated too much from the more grim reality of the world and that the experience has made you less tolerant of different people?