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Summary

At the dawn of the 21st century, British society is still shaped by a private education system devised to gentrify the Victorian middle classes and produce gentlemen to run the Empire. Yet it is not on the political agenda. It is rarely the subject of public debate, and we remain blind to its psychological implications. Can we afford to go on ignoring this issue? Will we continue to sacrifice the welfare of our children to satisfy our antiquated social aspirations?

Why do the British still send their children away to boarding school? What are the attitudes underpinning this practice which mystifies foreigners? What does it mean for a child to be sent away from home and immediately have to survive in an unfamiliar custom-ridden world, without love, family life, or privacy? Will it be "the making of him", or will it be a trauma from which he may never recover?

No theory of child development supports the British habit of boarding. Unsurprisingly, it consequently turns out products marked by their ability to function confidently in outer social contexts, as well as their extreme fear of intimacy - in fact, any circumstance that would excite the vulnerability that had to be disowned in childhood along with their parental attachments. Ex-boarders therefore find family life, intimate relationships quite a challenge. Equally, those ex-boarders in positions of power struggle to comprehend those who are economically vulnerable and have a pathological fear of belonging.

This groundbreaking and widely acclaimed book outlines the history of the boarding project and explains "Boarding School Syndrome" and the building of the "Strategic Survival Personality". It is as useful for survivors of the system as for parents, partners, therapists, and educators, and ought to be required for legislators and those interested in the particular character of British society.

©2000 Nick Duffell (P)2016 Nick Duffell

What listeners say about The Making of Them: The British Attitude to Children and the Boarding School System

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really well written book about boarding school

well written book about a subject that is beginning to gain attention. great read if you have boarded or are in a relationship with someone who has boarded this book is likely to be of great interest.

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Fascinating and Terrible in equal measure

This is a terrible world to observe, but also it is fascinating too - well done to narrator and author.

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Nearly

I badly needed this book to be written and reading the first couple of chapters felt like a trauma had been acknowledged for the first time. However, by the time I finished it I realised I had badly needed this book to be written... by someone else.
The approach is dated. The author does a good job of recognising the anti-women bias his schooling gave him and then proceeds to demonstrate it with almost every reference to women and, more worryingly, his female clients. I can honestly say that the reason boarding school damaged me was not because I was prevented from “making the precious gift of my feminine sexuality to my father”!!
This feels like a cross between a therapeutic exercise for the author and an undergrad dissertation but it is one of the very few books on the topic and therefore has some value.
The narrator sounds like Alan Bennett without the humour.

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A Powerfully Enlightening Work

I've been waiting some time to get into this book and I do wish I had done it sooner. Nick Duffell offers an excellent treatise on the horrific damage caused by an outdated, insititutionalised education system prized globally. His work encompasses in-depth discussion of the insitition of boarding schools and the psychological impact on its pupils and alumni.

The topic is covered with insight and sentivity, offering a balanced view of the system, leaving the listener to reach their own conclusions. I have found profound insights which will no doubt inform my clinical practice as a therapist in many ways. I am deeply grateful to Nick Duffell for this very timely and powerful tour de force into the creation, psyche and impact on, and of boarder through the lifespan, on their lives and those of their friends, families and wider society with whom they come in contact with. My only criticism was of the narrator, whilst his was the perfect voice for this work, at times it became monotonous and droning.

Overall, a deeply informative book which I shall revisit often and one which I cannot recommend highly enough to anyone who works with ex-boarders.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-03-16

I enjoy academic writing, but not this

this was surprisingly devoid of actual stories. I don't mean case reviews, those hollow things were offered regularly. What we didn't have was narratives, the details necessaty to put ourselves on the shoes of these guys.