Preparing for Power: America's Elite Boarding Schools

By Peter W. Cookson; Caroline Hodges Persell | Go to book overview

6
The Iron Hand in the Velvet Glove: Trustees, Heads, and Charisma

MUCH as Aristotle sought to civilize and educate the young Alexander the Great for his role as world conqueror, prep school educators often depict themselves as mentors to the next generation of the power elite. The classic values of duty, honor, and loyalty are central to the ethos of the schools, and much of the physical, psychic, and intellectual training that goes on within the status seminary is directed toward creating a class of leaders who have the character to shoulder the burden of leadership and the talent and courage to protect their own class and status interests. A key component of the prep rite of passage is the acquisition of the moral authority to exercise power without remorse.

Students in the total institution need not look far to find examples of how power can best be exercised, because the leadership patterns within the prep school world serve as examples of how the world really works. Like other power structures, the prep power structure is hierarchical, but

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