Building the Body List

The first serialization of Body in the Pond reached a modest circle of friends and colleagues. The number of recipients tripled in round two, and the readership became international. I don’t—or didn’t—know many of the second-round readers. Now friends and colleagues of theirs have signed on. Traffic to this site from China has become regular, if modest.

I work on the list for round three with intention. I still aim to conduct this very old-school performance art for and with an international audience, but I am also building a list of teachers in private schools. For obvious reason.

This has led to a study of the public faces those schools present on their websites. What do they tell us?

First, they have public safety plans in place for the Era of Covid. As private schools are the environment of the well-to-do, they have the resources to protect their privileged charges. I don’t use privileged pejoratively. It is a fact of their status. One always hopes that the privileged will use their status in service to a greater good.

Second, girls dominate the webpages. Girls learning, achieving, striving, leading. Except for the schools that are exclusively male—a very small subset—they want you to send them your girls so that they can prepare them to lead the world.

Third, most of the faculty are women, even at boys’ schools.

Fourth, very few present a vision for turning boys into men. There is scant old-school talk about building character in boys.

Fifth, young people of diverse ethnicities, hues, and dress appear in all photographs. One doesn’t know if the pictures present the daily lived experience at the schools or the schools’ desire to appear virtuous. But the intent is clear: a diverse population is a good population.

Sixth, they all have lovely campuses of old brick buildings and sweeping lawns. The physical vision remains very old-school English.

What does this tell us about the state of the world? That here in the West, at least, the women will soon lead. What a relief. That we don’t quite know what to do with boys anymore. That privilege is alive and well and will take care of itself and that it seeks to enlarge its gene pool. That they should begin raising sheep to keep those wide lawns beautiful without resort to fossil fuels.

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