30 June 1998

Why Class Reunions should be Encouraged

I'm off to a year six reunion in twenty days time. It should be a lot of fun, provided that I refrain from being my usual yobbish self.

Now, I should give you a little bit of info on myself.

I'm a Sydneysider who lives in Melbourne. Now the first question that anyone asks at this point is, "What's the difference between Sydney and Melbourne?"

If you don't live in either city, you're very fortunate if you don't know about it, but a media-propagated "rivalry" exists between the two cities. This has been going on so long that people actually believe it.

Anyway, in answer to that question, someone once said that the difference is that where Sydney is full of "yuppie wankers", Melbourne is full of "arty wankers". Either way, they're all wankers. But all generalisations suck, as another great sage once said.

I moved to Melbourne in 1991 to study Commerce at Melbourne Uni after two years at a co-ed boarding school in Albury, NSW. Before that I lived in Sydney in the fairly nondescript suburb of Frenchs Forest, and was at that venerable institution that goes by the name of The Forest High School. Two years at Chatswood Primary School before that, and before that, 5 years at Frenchs Forest Primary School and that is my academic life in a nutshell.

But focus on those two years, 1983 and 1984, when I spent years 5 and 6 at Chatswood Primary School. I was in a class called an "Opportunity C" class. (Yes. I'm 26 in three weeks. I'm officially an old fart)

Now for those of you in Victoria (or anywhere else), in New South Wales, selective government schooling doesn't extend to only 3 or 4 high schools, it extends to about 15 to 20. In addition to this, there was "Opportunity" classes in primary school.

These were classified thus - A was for the general population. B was for the blind kids and D was for the deaf kids. But C, was for the "gifted" kids. We're talking IQs here, folks. We're talking those tests that they made you do in fourth grade, where they would ask you a question like, and I'm not joking:

A. Red House

B. White House

C. Blue House

D. Yellow House

Which house does Mr Smith live in?

Now, if that is going to give you any idea how intelligent you are, then much can be made of these so-called intelligence tests.

For a start, psychologists argue amongst themselves as to the relevance of IQs. Are they the be all and end all? Take these examples.

1. A child is phenomenally intelligent, but has undiagnosed reading difficulties. Valid IQ obtained in a standard test?

2. A child is considered well read and artistic, yet has problems with mental arithmetic, which a good fifty percent of the questions relate to. Valid IQ?

3. A child is considered stupid, but has seen the questions and answers. Valid IQ?

4. A child has had no contact with civilisation, yet mostly the questions assume some level of schooling. Valid IQ?

So if they have problems actually working out what someone's IQ is, then how did they ever come to the conclusion that it is a way of objectively ranking people intellectually?

Anyway, I ended up in an opportunity C class at Chatswood Primary because I was allegedly in that top 2% that got offers. Incidentally, there were three other people from Frenchs Forest Primary who were offered places in this class. One accepted (like myself), one turned it down, and I never found out who the last person was.

Into this class went other people from the area - mostly from the Northern Beaches and North Shore areas of Sydney. We all hung out together and as a result, we were probably a tighter knit than other sixth grade classes.

So out of curiosity, and you disciples of Freud and Jung out there can read into this anything you like, I prepared a sort of survey to see what happens when a bunch of possible Einsteins are unleashed onto society. If your PhD is in sociology and you haven't thought of what your thesis is going to be on, this might help. It goes a little something like this:

Go to your next reunion and find out the…

  • Number of people who left school after year 10.
  • Number who went on to Uni.
  • Number who engaged in that undergrad tradition - ripping articles out of journals because they were too lazy to line up for the photocopiers.
  • Number who lived in a hall or college of residence while at Uni.
  • Number who were regarded as "college legends".
  • Number who were regarded as lepers.
  • Number who went on to study post-grad. (NB you could also introduce a sub-question specifying post-grad qualification, ie assoc-dips, grad-dips, pg-dips, grad-certs, pg-certs, masters, PhDs, etc)
  • Number now married.
  • Number once married.
  • Number more than once married.
  • Number in de Facto relationships.
  • Number with kids.
  • Number with kids born out of wedlock.
  • Number with extra-marital lovers.
  • Number with extra-marital kids.
  • Number who've visited prostitutes.
  • Number who visit prostitutes regularly or occasionally.
  • Average age of lost virginitys.
  • Number who've come out as being gay or lesbian.
  • Number who admit to being bisexual.
  • Number who consider themselves "sexually fluid".
  • Number who won't admit to any of the last 3 questions.
  • Number who consider themselves straight but have been in a gay/lesbian liaison.
  • Number who've used/who use illegal drugs.
  • Number to have had a drug and/or alcohol problem.
  • Number who currently have a drug/alcohol problem.
  • Mean and median income level with outliers noted.
  • Number who admit to being at least 80% happy with their career choice.
  • Number who haven't made a career choice.
  • Number on the dole.
  • Number who consider themselves religious, whether completely, semi, or marginally.
  • Number who consider themselves agnostic.
  • Number who consider themselves athiest.
  • Number practising a religion different to that of their background or upbringing.
  • Number practising a religion where they are a self proclaimed messiah or prophet.
  • Number who consider sex is a viable religion.
  • Number who have/who've had a problem with sex addiction.
  • Number who make or who have made a living as a professional athlete.
  • Number who are or who have been addicted to their own endorphins.
  • Number who still live in city where school is located.
  • Number who live outside country where school is located.
  • Number who live in the USA.
  • Number who vote ALP.
  • Number who vote Liberal/National.
  • Number who vote other, including Democrats and Greens.
  • Number of swinging voters, ie those who are actually objective.
  • Number who vote informally.
  • Number who haven't actually put their names on the electoral roll yet.
  • Number who think that two party preferred elections are a joke.
  • Number who think that bicameral legislature is also a joke.
  • Number who know the name of their state and federal MPs as well as being able to name at least two MLCs and two senators from their state.
  • Number of medical doctors/surgeons. (not graduates or interns)
  • Number of doctors proper.
  • Number of lawyers. (not articles clerks or graduates)
  • Number of accountants. (not graduates or people doing PY or CPA programs)
  • Number of garbologists.
  • Number who have owned a '78 Mazda 323, a '72 Toyota Celica, an '84 Holden Commodore or a Leyland P76.
  • Number who'd take this questionnaire at all seriously.

Well, that's it.

Get your answers in, and there'll be a special prize for the most hilarious (but true!!) answers.