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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Boarding Schools in Popular Culture

Who doesn't love a bit of teenage rebellion? Not in real life, of course... It's far easier to tolerate in books or on the big screen!

Throughout the years some of the best known and most loved "coming of age stories" have been set in boarding schools. Expected by their parents to focus all their attention on academics, but interested instead in getting up to your usual teenage mischief of sneaking around at night, dating and drinking, the characters have become idols and representatives of the generation.

Take a moment to look back at some of the depictions of boarding schools in popular culture.

Enid Blyton's Malory Towers and St Clare's

Set on the Cornish coast, Malory Towers is a school for wholesome young ladies. Likewise, St. Clare's. Both series focus on tracing the lead characters' paths from their initial arrival at the school to their final term.

Enid Blyton makes it extremely easy to identify with the girls. In their day to day lives, the young ladies have tiffs, they develop crushes, some study hard and others are led astray by more rebellious friends.

After classes have ended for the day, they play sports or ride horses. And, of course, they don't always sleep at night time. The girls at Malory Towers enjoy a few late night swims and a midnight feast by the pool.

It is believed that the author based Malory Towers on St Leonard's School in St Andrews, Scotland.

St. Trinian's, the film

The St. Trinian's storyline is full of exaggerations but perhaps that's why it's so loved? The boarding school is an institution for parents to dispose of their "uncontrollable" daughters.

St. Trinian's girls love nothing more than pulling pranks and breaking the rules. They like to beat their rivals at hockey matches, literally. Yet still the underlying themes of friendships and teenage competition are inherent.

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Could it be the most famous boarding school of all time? The term-time home of Harry Potter and his fellow pupils, the beloved characters of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom and many more is featured so vividly in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. As the setting for many of the book's most memorable scenes, the school lives through everything from teenage heartbreak to explosive cauldron incidents to a full blown war against the dark side. If only walls could speak...

Many parents will have experienced their kids' pleas to go to boarding school after reading these books or watching these movies. You can make your child's dreams come true, at least to a certain extent. It's not common for independent schools in Scotland or France or Australia, or in fact anywhere to include magic lessons and quidditch in their curricula! But sports such as the Malory Towers' favourite, lacrosse, can be played at most private schools in the UK.

In general, boarding schools are known to offer a wider range of extracurricular activities, and encourage a greater sense of community spirit. Most, however, don't advertise what goes on behind closed doors during the night time. To find out, you have to read books and watch movies.

Harvey McEwan writes on a variety of areas, from the featuring of independent schools in Scotland in literature, to travel information. View Harvey's other articles to find out more.

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