I read with interest in the Daily Telegraph recently of the sacrifices being suffered by other schools. By the standard of Wellington College, our losses pale into insignificance. It was reported that of the 3,020 Wellingtonians serving, 395 have been killed and 490 wounded. In addition 4 masters have lost their lives.
Wellington is, of course, a much bigger school than the OPS, numbering 526 in 1914. Our numbers only reached 100 in 1905 and at the beginning of the war we had 119 children in the school (not counting our junior department of 20 children aged 5-8 yrs old).
Yet, by December 1914 there were 225 Old Dragons and staff in the armed forces, with a further 10 at Sandhurst, Keyham or Osborne and it may well be that there are over 300 serving now.
Our Roll of Honour currently lists 33 killed (including 2 members of staff) and 59 wounded/missing – 21 of whom since April.
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My mind, now with some time to think on such things, dwells on the present stir in educational circles. Are we to have a scientific instead of a literary basis for the education of our children, or are the two to be combined in the scholastic edifice?
Preparatory Schools must of course follow the Public Schools and they the Universities. Shall we, after having conquered the Germans, proceed to imitate their methods and systems? Has our Public School education proved itself so much inferior in its product to the ‘scientific’ and ‘methodical’ Prussian system?
At the cost of a few days’ war expenditure a scheme could be carried out for all those young Englanders, whose so called education has hitherto been cut short at the age of 14, that would give every class the English Public School spirit and, in a generation, class antagonism would die down and the whole nation would be strengthened morally, physically and intellectually.
Here at the OPS, we have always tried to foster interest in Nature and her workings and should only be too glad to extend opportunities in such direction; Archer Vassall, Treffry Thompson, Dr. Slater, Professor Poulton and others have helped inspire this interest.
I hope to arrange for a regular series of lectures on the lines of the Ashmolean Society; this should be easy in Oxford. A knowledge of and an interest in ‘the world around us’ – this is of at least equal importance with, even if it does not include, the study of mind and thought; but this is a very different thing from a so-called ‘scientific’ and ‘systematic’ education, which rules out the Humanities and produces the German and his Kultur, as well as the weird English style in which its advocates usually express themselves.
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My top English form last term did a good deal of essay writing and learning of good English and has somewhat neglected the acquisition of historical and geographical information, but the boys in future years will, I hope, bless me and not blame me for this; and if the pen be really mightier than the sword, they will have an armoury that will stand them in good stead.