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  • Which local issues should deserve a protest campaign? Work out instructions for an organized protest campaign which might just work.

    III. Education and PR

    The curse of nepotism. A helping hand for those who least need it

    The Economist January 10th 2004

    America likes to think of itself as the very embodiment of the spirit of meritocracy: a country where all people are judged on their individual abilities rather than their family connections. The American Revolution swept away the flummery of feudal titles. Thomas Jefferson dreamed of creating a “natural aristocracy”. Benjamin Franklin sniped that “a man who makes boast of his ancestors doth but advertise his own insignificance”.

    Today most Americans believe that their country has done a reasonable job of getting rid of the most blatant forms of discrimination towards blacks and women and building a ladder of educational opportunity. Americans are far more confident than Europeans that people deserve what they get in life.

    But are they right? The more you look at modern America, the more you are struck by how frequently it departs from the meritocratic ideal. George Bush’s Washington is a study in family influence.

    The biggest insult to meritocracy, however, is found in the country’s top universities. These institutions, which control access to the country’s most impressive jobs, consider themselves far above Washington and its grubby spoils system. Yet they continue to operate a system of “legacy preferences” – affirmative action for the children of alumni.

    These preferences are surprisingly widespread. In most Ivy League institutions, “Legacies” make up between 10% and 15% of every freshman class. At Notre Dame they make up 23%. They are also common in good public universities such as the University of Virginia. Legatees are two to four times more likely to be admitted to the best universities than non-legatees.

    America’s universities are probably the most politically correct places on the planet. So what are they doing pandering to the (overwhelmingly white) children of the overclass? University administrators offer two justifications. The first may be crudely characterized as fund-raising. Universities are always asking their alumni for a helping hand and for money. The least the alumni can expect in return is that the universities will take a careful look at their college-age offspring.

    But is it reasonable for universities to use their admissions system as tools of alumni management – let alone fund-raising? Universities are supposed to be guardians of objective standards. They are also the recipients of huge amounts of public money as well as private donations. In short, there is no need to.

    The second justification is that alumni preferences aren’t really preferences at all.

    William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions at Harvard College, admits that 40% of the children of alumni get into Harvard compared with only 11% of ordinary applicants, but says that is mainly because of self-selection. Successful legatees have almost the same test scores as successful non-legates.

    Given the secrecy of the admissions process, this argument is hard to verify.

    It is worrying that a department of Education report in 1990 concluded that the average Harvard legacy student is “significantly less qualified” than the average non-legacy student in every area except sports. But even if you give Harvard the benefit of the doubt, the system is still a disgrace. This is a university that has to turn down more than 2,000 high-school valedictorians every year. If you are going to offer a ‘slight tip ‘ to anyone, why offer it to people who are already on the inside track - who not only come from privileged homes, but also have an insider’s knowledge of how the admissions system works?

    There are signs that patience with this practice is wearing thin. John Edwards has made it a theme of his presidential campaign, denouncing it as “a birthright out of 18th-century British aristocracy, not 21st-century American democracy”. Teddy Kennedy has drafted a bill that will force universities to publish data on the racial and socio-economic make-up of their legatees.

    But there are two big obstacles to the Democrats rallying around the banner of meritocracy. The first is that the left overwhelmingly supports affirmative action for minorities, a policy far more acceptable than affirmative action for the rich, but which rests on the same belief the people should be judged on something other than their individual abilities.

    The second reason is that much of the Democratic establishment is also riddled with nepotism. Howard Dean was a legatee at Yale University, just like George Bush. The front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 is Hillary Clinton. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ leader in the House, is the daughter of a Five-term Maryland congressman turned Baltimore mayor - and one of her chief challengers for the job was Harold Ford, who succeeded his father in a Tennessee seat.

    Perhaps an infusion of new blood will make American politics a little less inbred. Perhaps an improvement in inner-city schools will mean that no affirmative action can be allowed to wither on the vine. But none of this seems very likely. For most of its life, America has usually been marching towards the meritocratic ideal. Now it is getting harder to ignore the accusation that it is slouching in the opposite direction.

    I Explain the word/words, read the sentence in which it /they is/are used translate the sentence.

    nepotism to pander to

    meritocracy overclass

    flummery fund-raising

    to snipe legacy student

    blatant to turn down

    grubby valedictorian

    spoils system tip

    legacy preferences front-runner

    affirmative action to inbreed

    alumni inner-city

    ivy league to wither on the vine

    legatee to slouch

    II 1) Ask three questions to the article that might serve the plan for a summary.

    2) Give the summary.

    3) What can you say of “legacy preferences’ in Russia?

    4) Is nepotism in the criminal code and your opinion a punishable felony?
    Higher and Further Education.

    (video script, abridged) 1995

    The city of Oxford is famous for one of the oldest Universities in the world. Tourists come here to marvel at the history and glamour of the university city that attracted scholars all over the world for more than 400 years.

    Oxford University consists of 96 individual colleges made as monastic communities where students and teachers still live and study in college together.

    Once a university education was only for the privileged few mainly young men from wealthy backgrounds, not exclusively dedicated to academic achievement.

    50 years ago there were just 19 universities in Britain and most students were privately funded. The 1944 Education Act brought an access to University by making grants more widely available to young men and women from every part of society, so that no one with ability would be denied the right to higher education.

    The 1960-ies was a period of wide expansion, and today there are 91 universities in Britain.

    Practical vocation subjects are studied at colleges of further education.

    But Britain’s education system is going through its most radical period of change for half a century. This history city of Oxford can demonstrate some of these changes and the range of learning choices for a new generation of students.

    There are about 300 thousand full-time students at university in Britain studying for degrees in the arts and sciences. Over 95 thousand students are studying for degrees in their own homes. This is distance learning through Britain’s Open University.

    Over 2 million adults enroll for further education colleges pursuing mainly vocation non-degree study Around 130000 unemployed people are learning new skills to help their job prospects and millions choose to learn skills like this in their spare time for no other reason than the pure pleasure of learning.

    The Government wants to increase access to higher education. !3 years ago only 1 in 8 school-leavers went on to college. Today it is 1 in 5 with a predication of 1 in 3 by the year 2000.

    “… Higher education will over next 20 or 30 years change out of all recognition, that’s my view. There are 2 reasons: one is that the expansion is enormous, it really is a revolution, is not evolution, it’s very, very rapid. It’s from 20% of the age group getting higher education now to something like one in 3 in 10-15-years time, so that’s bound to happen and affect the type of students. And, secondary, formal institutions, they can’t all be the same, they can’t all be FE colleges, can’t all be Oxford, so it’s going to be a much more diverse system of higher education, far more differentiations between institutions which I personally think is a good thing”

    A few streets away from this college the New Oxford Brooks University already illustrates a different style of education. This was once a polytechnic college. Under new education law it’s now a University and the degrees it awards reflect the old polytechnic traditions on a more practical, vocational style of education.

    “… I don’t know where it ends… they have different emphasis, and it can mean that some will have far more science than others, set one kind of emphases.

    Some will go more for mature students than others and undoubtedly

    1. Compose five questions that might serve a plan for the reproduction of the text.

    2. Reproduce the text.

    3. Point out the main problems of the British higher education of today.

    4. Say what you can of further education in Russia.

    5. Speak about higher education in Russia using (or modifying) your plan (№ 1)

    6. Give your suggestions for perfecting Russian system of higher education supposing that funds are unlimited.

    IV. Theatre Life.

    From the History of English Theatre

    In the XIXth century the influence of the French “well-made” plays of Sardou and Sribe had been felt in London, and for a time dominated the work of English dramatists. Henry Arthur Jones and Arthur Wing Pinero were, however, opening windows on to modern life and letting some much-needed fresh air into the run-of-the-mill playhouses. Jones was a serious dramatist and a conscious pioneer whose Saints and Sinners (1884), in spite of some melodramatic features, introduced the Victorians to a naturalism they had not yet met in the theatre though they were already familiar with it in prose fiction.

    In contrast, Oscar Wilde was writing brilliant artificial comedies of which The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) in the most likely to survive.

    New theatre sprang up all over London, and many new ones were also built in the provinces, where the old stock company and circuit system were breaking down under the impact of touring companies. These took advantage of the network of railways which soon spread across the countryside to present replicas of London successes to provincial audiences. A new phenomenon which arose roughly in the 1850s was the music-hall.

    Soon every town had its own music-hall, the larger ones very often having local stars, some of whom went to London and returned on tour as nationally-known entertainers while others were content to remain at home and build up a personal relationship with their faithful audiences. From Scotland, which had struggled for many years to build up its own indigenous theatre, came a special brand of Scotish comedians, were also popular, and from America came the ministrel shows at first played by white men with blackened faces but later by true Negroes. Their performances, unlike those at the music-halls were intended for family entertainment.

    Many of the new theatres built in London at the turn of the century were controlled by a newcomer to the theatrical scene, the actor-manager who starred in his own company in plays chosen and directed by himself, usually spending the winter in London and the summer on tour.

    By the end of the XIXth century the theatre in all its ramifications was the main public amusement; but the glamour and scenic splendour of most of the productions did not blind some people to the fact that there was little serious drama, and what there was often lost, in the flood of meretricious entertainment. In the 1890s some enthusiasts for the “theatre of ideas” which was already making headway on the Continent, particularly with the advent of such dramatists as Ibsen and Strindber, stated a reaction against what they regarded as the despotism of actor-managers, the policy of the long run, the overpowering use of scenic spectacle, the escapism of romantic melodrama, and the stereotyped form and conventional morality of the “well-made”play. The modern movement may be said to have begaun with Shaw, whose first play, Widowers’ Houses, was presented privately by J. T. Grein’s Independent Theatre. As a result of their pioneer work Grein and others were able to establish the stage society, a private play-producing group which for the next 40 years arranged Sunday performances of experimental and banned plays in West End theatres.

    Among the writers of new drama Shaw stands somewhat apart. His range of interest was wider than their, his plots enlivened by touches of the fantastic and the absurd, and the characteristic incisiveness of his dialogue is blended with the soaring but finely organized rhetoric of his long speeches. Galsworthy and other dramatists of the new age were more naturalistic. They appealed above all to the intellect, and were specially concerned with the emancipation of women and the influence of money on moral principles. An agreeable purveyor of comedies of manners well suited to the Edwardian age was Somerset Maugham in his early plays though he later became a penetrating satirist.

    Major changes in the theatrical scene came with the outbreak of war in 1914. Although the actor-managers had been accused of giving little or no encouragement to the new drama, they had maintained a certain continuity of policy in their theatres and helped to buttress the drama proper against the competition of the music-hall, musical comedy and revue. During the First World War, however, theatre rents and the costs of production quadrupled, and the actor-manager was ousted by financial combines whose one idea was to make money by providing light entertainment for a warweary audience swollen by the influx of overseas soldiers. Musical comedy, melodrama, and farce became the staple fare of most theatres, in London and in the provinces.

    Between 1918 and 1939 the practice of subletting the principal London theatres made productions more costly than even and, with a few honourable exceptions, managements preferred long runs of obvious appeal to serious but experimental plays.

    The arrival of the films, and particularly talking films, caused many theatres to be converted into cinemas. The staging of new plays became more and more prerogative of a few small theatres, often clubs with a limited private membership.

    With the disappearance of the actor-managers went also the flamboyant style of acting and the melodramatic type of play they had favoured. The disillusioned and iconoclastic audience of the 1920s and 1930s preferred adroit understatement and the critical realism of the problem play and the drama of social purpose. Schooled by the cinema, it found no fault with the episodic structure of Galsworthy’s last important play Escape (1927).

    The conflict between the younger and the older generations was a favourite theme for problem plays.

    Although naturalism was the prevailing dramatic technique of the inter-war period, some playwrights searched for a method which would permit a more imaginative presentation of life without a return to sentimental romanticism.

    J. B. Priestley moved from the efficient naturalism of Edem End (1934) to the dramatization of new theories of the circularity of time in I Have Been Here Before and Time and the Conways (both 1937).

    In many respects the anti-naturalistic movement of the time reached its climax in T. S. Elliot’s Murder in the Cathedral (1935).

    The upheaval of the Second World War, which closed many theatres in London and the larger provincial cities for lengthy periods between 1939 and 1942, nevertheless saw an important revival of dramatic art in Britain, chiefly because for the first time the state began to subsidize it through the creation of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA), later the Arts Council. This resulted in the establishment of the Bristol Old Vic, in the formation of several excellent touring companies, and in sponsored repertory seasons in London comparable to that given by the Old Vic company at the New Theatre in London.

    Peter Ustinov and Terence Rattigan emerged as young dramatists of promise, while such pre-warwriters as Priestley continued their successful careers. Most of the outstanding players of the 1930s were still active, and were able to make transition from the classical and romantic repertory in which they had made their names to the more realistic atmosphere of the post-war theatre. This was made easier by the sudden and somewhat unexpected interest aroused by the poetic plays of Christopher Fry: Gielgud starred in The Lady’s Not for Burning (1949), Laurence Oliver in Venus Observed (1950). Alec Guinness appeared in T. S. Elliot’s The Cocktail Party (1949). All of them were also to be seen later in the plays of the younger dramatists who came to the fore after interest suddenly shifted from the modern verse plays of Fry and Elliot to plays of protest and satire which exaltd the nonconformist, the misfit, and the martyr, and showed sympathy with and understanding of the frustrations and fears of the common man. The new movement was sparked off by the violent reaction of young people against the stereotyping process of mass civilization, the regimentation of the Welfare State, and the anxieties of the atomic age, as well as by the feeling that contemporary democracy was only a façade concealing an oligarchical “Establishment” associated with middle-class morality, imperialism, the use of nuclear weapons, and capital punishment. It exploded in John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (1956), at the Royal Court Theatre, the first of the naturalistic “kitchen-sink” dramas, in which the hero is a provincial graduate turned street vendor who hurls invective at class distinctions, Kiplingesque patriotism, suburban ennui, Sunday newspapers, and his mother-in-law, indiscriminately. Correspondingly, the older generations of provincial families were criticized in Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey (1958) and in Wesker’s Roots (1959).

    The influence of Brecht, whose plays were beginning to be seen in translation on the English stage, showed itself in the episodic narrative methods of Robert Bolt in A Man for All Seasons (1960), which starred Paul Scofield, one of the best of the post-war actors: while that of the Theatre of the absurd as developed in France by Beckett and Ionesco, which had already reached London with the former’s Waiting for Godot (1955). These plays, and many others, made clear the comic absurdity of man, his imperfect powers of communication with his fellows, and his inevitable fears and loneliness. The new movement brought a refreshing variety of contemporary idioms and dialects to the stage and made effective use of functional and symbolic settings, breaking down the “fourth wall” convention. This was matched architecturally by new theatre buildings derived from medieval, Elizabethian, and Greek models, which jettisoned the proscenium arch in favour of a thrust stage that aimed to provide a more intimate association between actor and audience than existing theatres allowed.

    The British theatre was fortunate in the both the innovative and the naturalistic spirit among dramatists, architects, and designers was found also in the new generation if young players and directors, all eager to experiment with new ideas in varied combinations, among them Albert Finney, Peter O’Tool, and Tom Courtenay and, as directors, Joan Littlewood with her Theatre Workshop, Peter Brook with the Royal Shakespeare Company, founded in 1961, and Tony Richardson with the English Stage Company, founded in 1956 at the Royal Court. As the new movement, typified by its youth, grew in strength, it fuelled the rebellion against all forms of authority by directing attention to the taboos of sex and religion, and by channeling its energies into a co-ordinated battle for the freedom of the theatre.

    In 1968 Parliament finally repealed the old Licensing Act and abolished the Lord Chamberlain’s powers of censorship. The heady sense of freedom that followed generated a brief wave of plays in the early 1970s that sought to test public reaction to verbal obscenity and physical nudity and eventually to prove that playwrights, actors, and managers between them could be trusted to know where artistic necessity ended and pornography began. With censorship no longer an issue drama in the 1970s showed two main trends, towards sardonic comedy and political polemic.

    The opening of the National Theatre complex in 1976, together with the continuing strength of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the excellence of the new regional theatres, helped to emphasize the precarious state of the commercial theatre, the West End theatre relied increasingly on transfers from the subsidized sector, the Fringe, and theatres such as those at Greenwich and Hampstead; and subsidized productions such as the R.S.C.’s adaptation of Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby and the National Theatre’s production of Shaffer’s Amadeus have triumphed on Broadway. It became accepted that the survival of the theatre – whether in London or the provinces – at any but the most basic level entailed public subsidy, especially in the severe economic climate of the 1980s.

    Questions and Tasks:

    1. Find in the text, quote the sentence the unit is used, explain it:

      run-off-the-mill playhouses


      stock company

      circuit system

      replicas of London successes


      to make headway

      the long run

      scenic spectacle incisiveness


      to buttress

      the staple fare

      obvious appeal


      flamboyant style


      adroit understatement;



      functional and symbolic setting;

      to jettison;

      to repeal;

      heady sense of freedom;

      to entail

    2. English theatre before Ibsen.

    3. The theatre of the beginning of the century.

    4. The period of 1918-1939.

    5. The changes of the War II.

    6. The protesting ‘50ties on the stage.

    7. The situation of the ‘60ties, ‘70ties, ‘80ties.

    Going to the theatre

    London is very rich in theatres; there are over forty in the West End alone – more than enough to ensure that there will always be at least two or three shows running to suit every kind of taste, whether serious or frivolous.

    Some of them are specialist theatres. The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where the great opera singers of the world can be heard, is the home of opera and The Royal Ballet. The London Coliseum now houses the English National Opera Company, which encourages English singers in particular and performs most operas in English at popular prices.

    Some theatres concentrate on the classics and serious drama, some on light comedy and revue, some on musicals. Most theatres have a personality of their own, from the old, such as the Theatre Royal (the “Haymarket”) in the Haymarket, to the more modern such as the recently opened Barbarian centre in the City. The National Theatre has three separate theatres in its new building by Waterloo Bridge. At the new Barbarian centre the Royal Shakespeare Company have their London home – their other theatre is at Stratford-on-Avon.

    Most of the older London theatres are concentrated in a very small area, within a stone’s throw of the Piccadilly and Leicester Square tube stations. As the evening performances normally begin either at seven-thirty or eight p.m., there is a kind of minor rush-hour between seven-fifteen and eight o’clock in this district. People stream out of the nearby tube stations, the pavements are crowded, and taxis and private cars manoeuvre into position as they drop theatre-goers outside the entrance to each theatre. There is another minor rush-hour when the performance finishes. The Theatre in London is very popular and it is not always easy to get in to see a successful play.

    Before World War II theatre performances began later and a visit to the theatre was a more formal occasion. Nowadays a few people “dress” for the theatre (that is wear formal evening dress) except for first nights or an important “gala” performance. The times of performance were put forward during the war and have not been put back. The existing times make the question of eating a rather tricky problem: one has to have either early dinner or late supper. Many restaurants in “theatreland” ease the situation by catering specially for early or late diners.

    Television and the difficulty of financing plays have helped to close many theatres. But it seems that the worst of the situation is now over and that the theatre, after a period of decline, is about to pick up again. Although some quite large provincial towns do not have a professional theatre, there are others, such as Nottingham, Hull, Coventry or Newcastle, which have excellent repertory companies and where a series of plays are performed during one seasons by a resident group of actors. Some towns such as Chichester or Edinburgh have theatres which give summer seasons. Even in small towns a number of theatres have been built in the last few years to cater for the local population.

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