Headmaster’s New Year Message
After the passage of storm Hercules, the Lent Term began with Epiphany sunshine and the first congregational practice in the Shirley Hall for Will Bersey, the new Director of Music. As Father Fred reminded the School, the New Year offers everyone the chance of new beginnings and renewed energy for the academic year ahead.
In the beginning of term Assembly I raised with pupils the current controversy between Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, and Tony Robinson, the actor (with Tristram Hunt, distinguished historian and Shadow Education Secretary, poised to join the fray) about whether ‘Blackadder’ was an appropriate ‘tool’ to use in the classroom to teach the history of the Great War. We have, after all, just entered the year which marks the centenary of the outbreak of that momentous conflict which changed and rocked so much of the social, political and economic stability of the long 19th century.
My view was that we should distinguish analysis and discussion about the military, political and social debates that have been raging amongst analysts and historians from shortly after the guns fell silent at the Armistice from exploration of (say) poetic truths as expressed by the War Poets, or satirical insights that have been part of the history of the First World War from the dry humour of soldiers in the trenches through to the (in my view very funny) episodes of ‘Blackadder’.
What do you think about all of this? Have you read the broadsheets? The ‘Guardian 2’ yesterday was particularly interesting, for example.
On the home, that is the King’s, front, the School is preparing to mark the centenary by a project to put right the absence of 29 fallen King’s pupils and members of staff (14 from the First War, 15 from the Second), who for a variety of reasons were not honoured originally on the plaques in the Memorial Court. The stories of the 158 individual King’s servicemen, as well as two former masters, who died in the Great War can be seen at the King’s School Roll of Honour website.
How do we remember and make a memorial of such an important event and such a great sacrifice? That seems the important question coming out of what might be a short newspaper debate.
Peter Roberts, Headmaster
The illustration shows the original war memorial scheme of 1918.