14 October 2014

Wasted talent

Writing about Christine Fulcher has reminded me of how difficult it is, and always has been, to say anything about our position.

In Christine’s case, she was clearly IQ-ful enough to have become an academic, even a professor.

It was a reflection on the educational system that, as her school life ended, she was not attracted by the possibility of making a university career in any subject, and not even interested in the idea of going to university at all, as she did not see how it could lead to a life that she could get anything out of. She went to university because her father put her under pressure, regarding it as disgraceful not to do so.

What would she tell her children (he argued) if she turned down the opportunity to go to university? She was told she should follow the example of her mother, who had been to college.

When Christine came to work with me in my independent and unrecognised academic establishment, a sympathetic family might have thought that it was a shame she had no easier way of making a suitable career, and they might naturally have thought that she needed support more than her brothers, or anyone else who was able to have a career that was salaried in the normal way.

But instead of this, they took care to discriminate against her, so that all financial support which might have come her way was cut off, and subsidies to her siblings were correspondingly increased.

Also they discouraged rich relatives and friends from subsidising her, whereas her brothers did receive subsidies (such as wedding presents etc.) from such people. Her family’s treatment of Christine discouraged her from socialising with them. This then gave them a (spurious) excuse to be even meaner to her.

Christine’s suitability for academic pursuits was shown by the fact that she naturally gravitated to subjects which only people with a ‘superior’ IQ are said to be able to do well. That is, sciences and languages – to which I myself was attracted.

Christine had wanted a career in science, but she did not pass her Chemistry O-level, having had mumps shortly before the exam. She wanted to retake it, but was discouraged from doing so by her school, and by her parents making unnecessary difficulties about it.

Christine could read French and German well by the time she left school, although merely attending the lessons provided in those subjects would certainly have been insufficient to produce this result. By the time I met her, she was widely read in the classics of French and German literature.

Many of those with the greatest aptitude for academic pursuits are thrown out by the system – whether at university or earlier – and the waste of their abilities is ignored. They are supposed not to mind, and indeed supposed not to exist except as rejects.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position and that of Christine Fulcher. I need people to provide moral support both for fundraising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.