What is ordinary?

An intriguing comment on Radio 4’s WATO earlier this week. An interviewee used a phrase which had me running for my notebook. Talking about grammar schools he said:

"The kids who are getting the benefit of selection where there are grammar schools are middle class kids, and there are very few kids from ordinary backgrounds who are getting into these schools."

It made me realise that the word ‘ordinary’ only has meaning in a relative sense. For the speaker (from an organisation that helps under-privileged children) you are not ‘ordinary’ if you are middle class. This probably came across as bizarre to listeners to the most middle class radio station on the dial.

But then perhaps middle class is a relative concept too.

Posted on 01 June 2007

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