In Late Republican Rome the armies of the collective Roman World were stationed in legions under separate Generals. We see this in Asterix, where an individual General is responsible for each regimental formation. The loyalty of the troops, then, is often first to the General, and then to Rome (though, in an encompassing sense, the General was an organ of that concept of Rome).
Returning to school for a debate project and a Shakespeare drama project I am appalled to see that the student resource of the college, too, is the center of a tussle for power and position by teachers who are “in charge” of co-curricular work.
In my last entry to this site, I briefly hinted how this detrimental development caught my eye — how petty teacher politics have gotten in the way of developing a rich student resource and in rewarding Kingswood with the best possible output in her extra-activity discourse. Well, over the past three weeks, what I have been witness of and am being made privy to haven’t improved my appetite too much; and I have a few more weeks of work left in the midst of these narrowminded customs.
What possibly happens at the top-end of the thread is left for your interpretation, but what is tangibly seen is as follows:
(1) Teacher ‘A’s “pet” is expressly forbidden to take part in activities of which Teacher ‘B’ is in charge; and vice versa.
(2) A mutual exclusivity between the English Medium and Sinhala Medium streams.
(3) A forbidding of Sinhala Medium students versed in ‘Activity X’ to take part in ‘Activity X’ in the English Medium.
Item (3), of course, is not new — for, even as back as 10 years ago, during my time, the treatment and attitude of the champions of Sinhala aesthetic dogmas were decidedly dogged against their English counterparts. Looking back, some persistent germs that made English activity very difficult in school still linger about and seniority has only made their positions more accentuated.
But, the most disheartening factor is how the English teachers have allowed their petty, divisive agendas to harm the English co-curricular discourse. The power-fights among these individuals — most of them with very little to offer in the way of positive production– has caused divisions among students, too, for (as cited earlier) these kids have “loyalty bases” — partly, perhaps, owing to their own survival needs; but, also owing to a definite lack of Calcium in their backbones. The English student resource is badly affected by such stupid divides, because:
(1) students who can be effectively employed for co-curricular work in English at Kingswood are limited in numbers to begin with.
(2) such divisions create unnecessary tension among the students and jepordize their own chances, choices and performances
(3) it is by all means hazardous to a progressive academic ethic and inter-student working environment
(4) discourages students from engaging in multiple activities
I am sure tensions among teachers and other personality clashes have existed since Adam (or, in this case, Blaze). Even during my senior years, there were differences between the Shakespeare Drama teacher and the Head of English. Similarly, during my last Shakespeare venture at college, where I trained the cast in 2008, the teacher in charge of the team was given a rough ride by the Sinhala drama teacher for all money’s worth. Yet, to prohibit students and to discourage them from pursuing activities merely because you have differences with the MIC of that subject cannot be pardoned.
Today, Kingswood has a rich deposit of talent in English drama and debating. But, what I see as lacking is a moulding of these blossoming students’ personalities to come out, to take strong initiatives and to be bold and brass in making the world their own. The eagerness and general attitude of these students — when I compare it with my times, a decade ago — is, on the whole, positive and encouraging. Yet, either because they have not been given the space to take proper initiatives or because they have been guided by the wrong sort, there is much hesitancy and diffidence in their play.
Kingswood should be an institute that provides capable and free thinking individuals who can challenge their surroundings and move ahead in their work. It should not be a battleground where the students are sacrificed as lamb for the loathsome battles among teachers and other mediocrity. As Blaze is often paraphrased as having said, the all round development of the student is what Kingswood and its educators should concentrate on. It should not be misused or misinterpreted as a reformatory of lap dogs.
When Julius Caesar led his legion (Legion 13) against the Pompeian forces and the Roman Republic in 49 BC (much in the way Sulla and Marius marched on each other a generation before), Roman was set against Roman; brother against brother. The carnage and the destruction that was caused would not be compensated by what Rome would consequently achieve — for what it could have had gained, minus the implosion, is arguably greater; nobler.