To me, private schools are really weird in general. When I hear people talk about their school pools, school socks, hats and ties, and worst of all, their school prefects, I have many questions and concerns. But nothing arouses a deep sense of suspicion and alarm in me like private school army cadets, a program as bizarre as it is ethically questionable.
My first encounter with cadets was as a first year debating adjudicator venturing onto the grounds of an elite Sydney independent school that will go unnamed. Here I was — steeling myself for a hotly contested GPS Seconds debate — when I found myself in what I initially believed was a warzone (albeit one with a disproportionate number of child soldiers).
Pimply youths in startling military fatigues marched around the soft-fall rubber of the school quadrangle, mouthing unintelligible army utterances and converging and separating in mystifying arrays.
I almost turned and ran, but luckily spotted a sign directing me to the safe, ammunition-free zone of Friday night debating — itself an activity of questionable adherents, I admit, but certainly less brainwashed ones.
Honestly, it shouldn’t even be necessary to write a column about why getting Sydney’s richest schoolboys to line up in silly little lines and march around chanting is stupid. It’s the kind of harebrained thought I’d chuck in The End Times at 3am. But, for whatever reason, thousands of children around Sydney regularly participate in this activity.
Straightforwardly: these kids should be reading a book or walking their dog. Paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for your child to go to grammar school only to march around in circles learning categorically nothing is deranged. Child soldiers are bad, even if they are just LARPing. Teach your kid to vacuum – it’ll serve them better than cadets ever will.