The Kingswood colours are not meant to be used as a banner for teachers, administrators — or whoever — to walk under. If this is the idea of making Teachers’ Day memorable, this should be thought of twice, because Kingswood and its representative colours are bigger than you and me. They are not toys to be played with. They are the colours we should respect and revere.
The editors of Our Boys 2011 record it in an enhanced font: “My Race is Kingswood – My Religion is Kingswood”. Well, then, blasphemy is your fault and Hell is your destination.
The notice on one of the school boards induced me to buy the “[120th] Anniversary Edition” of Our Boys. Published in 2011, with a fatally attractive cover and rich glossy finish, the school’s magazine (true to Robert Frost’s belief) did “begin with delight”. However, among the many streaks of wisdom that the magazine offered me, not to “judge a book by its cover” was the least mistakable. Glossy and well finished as Our Boys – 2011 may be, whether the Magazine Committee has fully grasped its responsibility as the editors of the “school’s magazine” is questionable.
Let us begin with the basics. Our Boys is the name the Kingswood Magazine was given when such a concept was first put into print in the 1890s. As LE Blaze himself records in KFE: The Story of Kingswood, Kandy, the magazine was initially an affair of a few pages held together: more like a pamphlet, which carried the creative work and other notices the school had to offer. In its best early years the publishing of Our Boys ran up to a steller magazine every quarter of a year, with, in worst cases, the publication being suspended altogether. In later years, the magazine, too, evolves – with it being more a record and summary of the school’s academic year. In this respect, Our Boys or the Kingswood Magazine becomes no better than an almanac; more like what Trinity, Hillwood etc issue every year. Post-1987 the publication of Our Boys has been most irrgular. There has been but a few (if not zero) issues of Our Boys between 1987 and 2008. A “school magazine” with horrendous editing came out either in 2007-08.
The chief drawback of the current magazine in question is the lack of conceptualization. When one prints a magazine you should ask youself why and as to whom the magazine is printed. Ideally, the Kingswood Magazine has to cater to the Kingswood community, with an outreach that can encapsulate the wide corpus of people who connect with the school. But, what our editors have offered us as the 120th Anniversary edition is largely a flimsy collection of data logs, accompanied by an assortment of graphics of the school’s lay. Most of these graphics are familiar, exhausted captures of the school, offering very little novelty. Except for a record of sports teams (five pages), a brief resume of the different sections of the school (two pages), a sketch of the Kingswood Week agenda (one page), the following articles on the school can be found:
A list of Principals from 1891 to the present day (Names of Principals are errenously recorded, and Mr. Nelson Rathnayake’s portrait is deselected).
An article highlighting 120 Years of Excellence in the school.
A brief sketch of the Our Boys history.
An outline of “Clubs and Societies” (in which two societies are focused on. Kingswood has over 30 other clubs and movements).
The validity of articles 1 and 3 can be questioned. What is “new” about the list of school heads is best answered by the editors, while the clumsy manner in which they relate to these men of the school’s past is unpardonable. Names are either misspelled or confounded. The former we may forgive, as the magazine is consistent in its inconsistent spelling; but, the latter cannot be easily overlooked. Why two clubs – the Dancing and Singing Units – are prioratized over a possible 30-odd other clubs which do not even get a mention is bewildering.
The “article” on the history of Our Boys is borrowed without acknowledgement from KFE: The Story of Kingswood, Kandy. The extract ends abruptly, but mentions no author – the author being Blaze and whom the editors have cheated by stealing his material without mention. Even in copy-pasting there is a standard. The “article” here is a classic example of a bungled copy-paste, as the pasting has been done twice, making a repeat of more or less the same words back to back.
The editors seem to run out of ideas once they are done with the sports team lists and the other accessory insertions. The space is eventually dedicated to the following articles which, in my opinion, are badly out of place in an annually printed school magazine:
How to Learn English
An article on Steve Jobss
An article on hybrid motor cars
An article on Einstein and Neil Armstrong
An article on the possible end of the world in 2012.
not that these items are ill in value. But, how do one make a case for these selections in the wider frame the magazine aspires to? From these insertions, it can be deduced that the editorial board is highly influenced by science and astrology, though it doesn’t give them the licence to tailor the school magazine in those directions.
Arthur McGill — a most respected and eminent old boy — is called “Auther McGill”. Incidentally this is the (mis)spelling found in the Memorial Museum dedicated to the gentleman’s name.
Consider the following cavities:
Name as given in the magazine
Reb. R. Pearson
Rev. R. Pearson
K.M. de Laneroll
K.M. De Lanerolle
In the article listing out the Principals of the school (and not the “Principles”, as the editor titles the page) Gibbon and Utting are written in two different ways – both wrong – in the same page. Some names are recorded without initials. These formatting and factual errors are sad to see, since what is misrepresented is core and commonplace knowledge. The editor calls the Principals who served after 1942 as “Sri Lankan Principal [sic] jointed [sic] to [sic] school”. In fact, LE Blaze – the founder – himself is a Ceylonese, hailing from South Western Payagala.
The Prologue of 2010 is included, but is badly mutilated. Lines are ommitted and badly tampered in places which, in turn, give a nonsensical air from time to time.
So, my attempt at reading the latest Our Boys resulted in me being frustrated and pissed – at the imbecility which makes our school a laughing stock in knowledgeable company. The civilized may tolerate, but the others may sneer and laugh – which are indeed justifiable, because we go out of our way to beg them to laugh at us. The least that can be done here is to appoint a sound editorial panel (nothing personal, as I do not know any of the editors individually; I am solely assessing them through the efficacy of their brainchild – Our Boys) and a good proof reader. The magazine is at its very best an indicator of where we stand: an irresponsible lot, with much gloss without substance to resonate. And we pen it off by calling the publication Our Boys.
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.