School; Monovian Editorials

Editorials - 1953

 

 

No. 62 Summer. 1953.

 


Editor:A. J. KNOCK.
Assistant Editor: R. N. TAMPLIN.

SPEAKING EDITORIALLY
Georgius Monoux eques hanc scholam fundavit....... .
The sense of continuity is elusive. How many of us, I wonder, peering up at the barely legible Latin script on the board over the Library door, feel a fine and bigoted pride in the weight of centuries on our backs? And yet we are some fifty years older than, for example. Harrow-and, as I once told an Harrovian. we are rather cheaper to enter. We fail not so much in knowledge of the rather scanty stock of facts, as in the physical consciousness of our mediaeval origin, and perhaps in the realisation of the nature and civilising value of what Speech-Day speakers call the 'Grammar School Tradition.' A better name would be the Grammar School Revolution.' The School was founded half-way through the reign of Henry VIII, at the height of the anti-clerical storm, at that time about to attain the status of a Revolution. The new grammar schools springing up in many parts of England were weapon and symbol of that greater revolution of which the anti-clerical movement was only a part. The new learning of More and Colet, of Tyndal,. Cheke, Grocvn and Linacre, flowed into the grammar schools, coinciding with the unifying strength of the great Tudor Monarchs, combining with them to break down the old feudal order. The new rising groups of yeomen, merchants, lawyers and squires looked to the grammar schools and the universities as local and national intellectual leaders As much as anything else, the grammar schools-that is to say, the founders of our School were responsible for the noble flowering of England in the lifetime of Shakespeare. Then, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the School fell on bad times. I have before me as I write transcriptions of nineteenth-century documents, showing that the School could seldom muster more than a handful of pupils who received (according to the Alms Priest Schoolmaster)"a good English education, and if required are taught Latin." Moreover, any undue rejoicing over an inspectors remark (in 1862) that "the pupils showed a fair average acquaintance with Geography and Arithmetic," must be damped by the knowledge that their style of writing was exceedingly poor." Not until the eighties of the last century was the School revived. but since then it has grown by rapid stages to its present strength. The moral is not far to seek. Owing to the School's ancient languishing, we have ourselves to create our own tradition. Our own four hundred-year history - or rather the lack of it - explains the tenuousness of our link with the past. Fortunately, though, the future lies not so much with the independent schools-whose badge of past success is present expense--as with schools of our own kind, the State-aided grammar schools. We can build up our own Renaissance from ourselves, from the history of our last fifty years, and from the memory-nothing more-of our founder. And we can say with one of our own contemporaries that Because I do not want to turn again, Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something On which to rejoice......


A.J.K.

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