No. 60 Spring 1952
Editors: A. J. KNOCK, R. J. TACAGNI
What is the point of the School Magazine? It is a question that seems to occur to no one. The Monovian makes its twice-yearly bow to an audience whose general concealment of enjoyment, interest and even disapproval is, if assumed, a masterpiece of dramatic ability. It is brought into being by the feverish labour of the few, and sinks to an early grave in the immense apathy of the many. There are, of course, honourable exceptions to the rule of unconcern. Indeed, it would not have occurred to the Editor to voice these possibly rather querulous complaints, had it not been for the shock administered to his (comparative) complacency by the appearance in the School Bulletin of a long and perspicacious criticism of the last issue of the Monovian. Incidentally, we believe the Bulletin does not suffer the fate of some other periodicals, of being more often bought than looked at, and more often looked at than read. The Editors of the Monovian thus found themselves in an odd situation: a consideration (in some detail) of their work was almost certainly being read, and hence presumably commented upon, by those who had done little more than glance through their copy of the School Magazine. In any case, our thanks and appreciation are due to the Bulletin. One of the main questions touched upon in the Bulletin was the proper subject matter of a school magazine. It should not, we gather, concern itself with politics. The inference is that matters of a controversial nature accord ill with the purely decorative value of a school magazine. With this view we wish to disagree most strongly. Surely, since we are guaranteed a permanent audience, it is our duty as well as our privilege to write about anything, in any tone and style, short of the alternatives of dullness and libel. The Monovian wishes to accept, or rather longs to receive, material ranging from difficult modern poetry to articles on sport, by way of essays, short stories, criticism and humour, particularly humour. It has been said that schoolboy humour is elephantine: since we see so little of it, we are not qualified to judge; but there is not the least doubt that a leaven of wit is essential to our success. We do not, of course, expect each of our contributors to become a genius overnight. Writing well, or even the negative ability of not writing badly, comes naturally to no one; it is an acquired taste and ability, only to be got by a considerable application. Nevertheless, a healthy and well-supported magazine is the sign and offspring of a healthy school, and surely everyone has at some time longed to see his name in print. One sometimes feels that, but for the devotion of some of the Staff, half the societies which form an apparently integral part of our School life would disappear; surely our enthusiasms should not have to be aroused, directed and maintained for us by others. The position of the schoolboy is admittedly rather a difficult one: when he tries to take an active part in the School, and therefore in his own education, he may at first feel like a patient on an operating table, entirely ignorant of medicine, who wants to advise the surgeon. All the same, a grammar school training, we are assured, is aimed at making a boy think for himself, and if it does not do so, it has failed. From all this, some idea of the value and purpose of the Monovian may perhaps be gained. It is not (or at any rate, not merely) a forcing-house for literary talent. We are of course glad when the contributors of articles assure us that their work is full of undiscovered genius, only waiting to be unfolded; but those with any really strong literary inclination must of necessity be few, and do not in any case give an adequate mirror of the entire life of the School. Nor is it simply a record of important recent events, a kind of glorified diary, or just something put out for prestige. It is in fact all of these and much more besides; it reflects, or ought to reflect, every aspect of School life. It is not devoted to any sectional interest; but it is both an evocation of the achievements of the School, and in itself, if successful, one of the greatest achievements of the School.
No. 61. Autumn, 1952
Editors: A. J. KNOCK, R. J. TACAGNI
ONE of the greatest differences between the Monoux and schools abroad with whom we come in contact is that here we have an extensive system of activities in no way related to the work prescribed on the time-table. Much of their value and a great deal of their weakness arise from the freedom allowed to societies, the School Council, and the six Houses. Authority intervenes only when asked or when it considers the general well being of the School to be affected. Consequently clubs are formed, old ones die out, and societies start organising activities which clash; boys complain when measures passed by the School Council are not applied or a House fails to hold a meeting, although it is the boys themselves who are ultimately responsible for the neglect. There is one obvious way of dispensing with the greatest dangers of the system without at the same time impairing the vital independence of out-of-school activities. That is to ask the School Council to undertake the compiling of a diary of engagements. Each society and group wishing to join in the scheme would submit to the Council proposals for its various activities and the dates on which they were intended to be held. It would then become a routine part of the meetings of the Council to hear reports submitted by societies and clubs, to co-ordinate their work, and to prevent clashes in engagements which might otherwise lead to unfortunate results. For example, it has occurred in the past that two important speakers have been booked for the same day. Every year, every term, sees the formation of some new out-of-school activity that very often calls for the support of the most prominent members of another group of societies. Some voluntary co-ordination of arrangements would undoubtedly save organisers the dread fear that a function will bring discredit through lack of support. After all, boys cannot be expected to attend meetings of different clubs on successive nights just because there has been a lack of foresight in spreading important engagements evenly throughout the year. Towards the end of the summer term the school Council on its own initiative asked to revert to a basis of form representation. The constitution may or may not change, but in any case a careful review of the function and working of the Council seems desirable although it has accomplished much useful work under the present constitution. Once its exact position had been ascertained the Council could proceed to attempt a reform of School societies to prevent anomalies. Under no circumstances must the independence of societies be threatened, but it would be in the interests of all to co-operate in a careful examination undertaken by the Council. One example of present duplication of activities will serve to illustrate the crying need for some voluntary adjustment of "spheres of influence." The Debating Society and the Local Studies Group both engage public speakers. Almost all of the lectures organised by the Local Studies Group would be of interest to the Debating Society, and in the event of both groups arranging for public speakers in the same week the attendance at both meetings would probably be seriously impaired. Moreover, both societies deal to some extent with history, as does the Classical Society, while there is yet a general demand for an organisation dealing specifically with historical matters. So great is the unintentional competition from other groups already established that those interested in history feel unable to form a definite society. The need for reorganisation is obvious, for each of these groups is of inestimable value in broadening our minds and moulding our characters. In addition to the work already undertaken by the School Council it would be well to include the important functions of co- ordinating out-of-school activities and keeping a diary of events; the Vice-Secretary of the Council could be the specific officer in charge of them. Engagements of interest to several societies could then be organised jointly by them and be guaranteed their joint support. The dates of inter-House competitions would be included in the diary of the Council; and individual Houses could be encouraged to arrange original activities such as House teas, for example, since the number of dates booked by a House in the Council's diary would indicate the extent of its enthusiasm and its corporate spirit.