The Brutal Truth About How Childhood Determines Your Economic Destiny

Posted by M ws On Saturday, January 19, 2013 0 comments

"Give me the child until he is seven," the old Jesuit teachers say, "and I will give you the man."

Back in 1964, filmmaker Paul Almond set out to test that theory by documenting the lives of a group of seven-year-old British children. Some were born to the manor; others grew up in charity homes. There were tykes from both the countryside and the city. Almond wanted to know if the destiny of the children had already been scripted by the circumstances of their birth -- particularly those of class. His film Seven Up! has grown into a series spanning over five decades. Every seven years, like the cycle in some mythological saga, Michael Apted, the assistant on the original project, has returned to these children as they have morphed before our eyes into awkward adolescents, tentative adults, and now, the paunchy survivors of late middle-age.

As bright-eyed children, participants like Jackie Bassett, the product of a working-class neighborhood, or Andrew Brackfield, who attends a posh prep school, are already miles apart in attitude and habits. Tellingly, the children speak very differently about what they see in their future. Those from the higher ranks already know which universities they’ll attend, while Paul Kligarman, who lives at the charity home, asks plaintively, “What’s a university?”

As an American watching the film, you probably have a strong urge to see the youngsters launched on stormy seas overcome their disadvantages. (You may also harbor a sneaking desire to see one or two of the most privileged children, like smug little John Brisby, receive some sort of comeuppance in life.)

It doesn’t go quite like that. When the first film in the series was released in the ‘60s, many believed that postwar affluence had translated into increased mobility and opportunity in Britain. Yet with few exceptions, the Up series shows that the children of cabbies tend to grow up to be cabbies and have children who do much the same. Likewise, the children of barristers grow up to be barristers and bequeath their legacies to future masters of the universe. The truth of the Jesuit adage stares starkly from the screen in the eyes of these real human beings.''

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article by Lyn Stuart Parramore.

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