In the Privilege and the Importance of Elite Education, Cooksen and Persell suggest that for a child to go to boarding school means that child enters into a culture. The prep school curriculum is based upon a classical, humanities tradition with little emphasis on modern, much less multicultural aspects. The child is ‘molded’ from the start in terms of what good and bad habits are and how to engage the “correct” way socially. Competitive sports reinforce the idea that healthy competition is good, particularly in the name of a team or school with like-minded individuals of the same social class. Teachers and headmasters show benign but unquestioned discipline. The teacher stresses the need to intellectually challenge the student and question student assumptions in a way that ‘shapes’ those assumptions towards a single, desired answer. “Impersonal regulation” from above “becomes a substitute for personal decision making, ensuring that the troops will stand firm in a crisis” (Cookson & Persell, 25). According to this metaphor, the elite are an army in a cultural war, and prep schools are basic training for that same war.
At prep schools, like the military, there is also a strong service ethic that the students attending are members of a unique class of people and because of this, they need to give back to the less fortunate. This can be thought of in terms of the military or even high-paying professions such as doctors and lawyers who do help those “in need.” Although this service ethic is a positive aspect in terms of society, it doesn’t surpass the value of the need to remain “on top” for the elite. For example, high social-class families that send their children to these schools are anxious that their children must succeed no matter what. The elite desire to perpetuate themselves and their values, which will enable them to stay in power from generation to generation. These boarding schools enable the children of the elite to become entirely engulfed in these values, from a young age, with little exposure to other ways of life. Due to this conformity imposed upon them since a young age, students often feel stifled, and the authors write about the many students that seek refuge from the pressures of school, competition and parental expectations in alcohol, drugs and even suicide. Accepting pressure is part of the atmosphere of “paying what you owe” for the privilege you receive; in the form of obeying teachers and losing privacy - is a way of making students feel better about accepting the