Doctor Faustus is the story of a man who sold his soul to the Devil.
Written by Christopher Marlowe around 1590, it tells the tale of how the famed scholar Doctor Faustus is persuaded by Lucifer’s agent, Mephistopheles, to sell his soul in exchange for 24 years of magical powers.
Faustus signs the pact with the Devil in his own blood. And when he later summons his dream of a beautiful woman, Helen of Troy, and kisses her, his soul is gruesomely sucked out of his body.
The German poet Goethe wrote his own two-part version of the story completing part Part 2 in 1831, just before he died. It has since become the most famous play in German literature, and a metaphor for corruption.
Hardly a month goes by when a Private Equity firm does not write asking us to consider selling The British School of Milan. Each time the governors and I are made an offer, we firmly resist because we know that to accept would be to lose our soul.
We know the price of the school, but we also know the value of education. As a not-for-profit school, we pay no dividends to shareholders. Any surplus is invested back into the school. Education remains our priority, not profit. So our first loyalty is to the students. Our duty is to teach them, not to monetise them.
I love the play Doctor Faustus and have taught it many times, but I hope I have learnt its lessons professionally. Schools have a moral purpose. There is nothing immoral about making money. But I cannot reconcile that moral purpose with the private equity model of squeezing students and parents for a profit, before quickly reselling.
There is already enough magic in our school created by the students and the teachers without needing to sell our souls.
- Ownership of Schools
- Private Equity