Starring Maggie Smith, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie takes place in an all-girls school in Edinburgh, Scotland. Only the superficial aspects of it remind me of my boarding school days–namely, the uniforms. But something else occurs to me about my experiences. My boarding school also had a day school. Daily, we were reminded of our status as boarders. Many of our classmates went home on yellow school buses they boarded behind our dorm. I watched my classmates climb into idling buses coughing up the diesel fumes.

At boarding schools that did not have day students, dorm life seemed to intersect more with the boarders’ education. We had no headmistresses, just a Mother Superior, nuns who oversaw the boarders and the nuns and lay faculty who taught/ran the school. We didn’t get to know our teachers except in class. They didn’t know about our lives as boarders. Because of this divide, we boarders never quite felt like we were living in a community. It was the place we stayed because we couldn’t go home. And boarding school never did feel like home.

I wonder so often what life was like for those who attended elite boarding schools. I’d see the ads for prep boarding schools in the New York Times. Did money make a difference in the way the boarders lived? Would it have been better to go to a place where everyone was a boarder? I’ve been reading studies about the effect of being a boarder during the early grades of elementary school. (I will blog about in the near future.) So far, I gather that putting a child in boarding school at a very young age is detrimental. I’m sure several factors come into play.

Meantime, for those of you who were ever boarders, perhaps this movie trailer for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie may trigger some memories. Of course, life doesn’t imitate art, nor do I expect that drama would replicate life.

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