How to Interpret Blaze and Tradition

When we say things without thinking too deep into it, the bizarre results. One such thing is how we at Kingswood always speak of “tradition”. We repeat this notion of “tradition” without considering that Kingswood, by itself, has always been a trend-setter, than a follower of the mainstream.

Consider the following random instances:

1) LE Blaze sets up Kingswood (initially called Boys’ High School) as an alternative education machine to the prevalent missionary curricula of his day. He leaves his appointment in Lahore, returns to Kandy and briefly breaks bread with the Anglican spirited Trinity. But, his radical educational agenda makes him press for a change; than to conform.

2) We often cite incidents such as being the first boys’ school at absorbing a lady teacher to its staff and opening the gates out for rugby as initiatives. These are also moments of re-setting “tradition”.

3) Blaze uses his Prologues to subtly comment and critique the social and political dynamics of his day. In the post world war (I) context, we see a mature Blaze use his pen to socialize his views, while being an educational officer.

4) Though not in practice, at least in spirit, Blaze elevates the student of the school par with any other, calling him “gentleman”.

5) He, upon retirement from school, is invited to take up office as the Librarian to the Ceylon University by Ivor Jennings. But, Blaze refuses this lucrative and ambitious offer, in order to stay by the school of his vision. Radical — given that the said post of librarian would have served as the top hat to any educational officer in the 1940s.

What we realize is that Blaze, in principle, was a man “of the system”, but always ready to transcend the system to further his visions. He establishes a school, but strives to make it a school with a distinct difference from the missionary cog. But, as it happens, with time and with our retrospective reference to a “history we have heard of; but have never actually seen”, we fetishize and idolize some of these things which Blaze never meant to be taken as “tradition”.

Only those who are diffident of one’s own dynamism would hang on to the fetishes of an era we never know of. Blaze’s impetus was to change history; to change its flow. You create your own ground based on your own vision and imagination. This is what should be exposed to the Kingswoodian from the earliest. We should be readers of history; for that history helps us see in perspective as to where we stand. But, that historical evidence should always come down with critical mindedness: so that the student takes it merely as a departure point to richer fields.

 

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