Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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This Centenary History has been produced through the efforts of the Old Geelong Collegians' Association, with strong support from the College Council. The Jubilee History (1911) has long been out of print, so that for most Collegians the past has been represented by a few more or less unrelated articles in "The Pegasus" or some brief facts learnt for an "initiation" test. The time is ripe for a new work in which all may read the coherent story of the College and thus understand more fully its present traditions and customs. Many may draw inspiration from the great characters and events of the past.

The four Old Collegians who have put this volume together take pride in the fact that it is "an inside job", and done for love. Further, one or another of this group has had a direct association with the College over almost the whole of the latter half-century.

A longer history might have been written. Some readers will feel that important incidents have been overlooked; others may consider that emphasis is wrongly placed. However, a serious attempt has been made to keep the spotlight on the only hero, the Geelong College, whose fluctuating fortunes and distinctive character are the real subject of the tale.

In writing the earlier chapters much use has been made of the Jubilee History. The College will always be in debt to its author, the late Mr. G. McLeod Redmond (O.G.C.), and his helpers. At the same time it has been possible to make substantial additions, as, for example, in the story and the roll of the eighteen-sixties, while in other sections the amount of detail has been reduced. "The Pegasus" has been equally valuable for its record of the last fifty years, justifying the labours of its many editors, committee members and contributors.

It is a pleasant duty to acknowledge the work of many friends of the College, who were glad to help where they could. It is unjust not to name them all, but special mention must be made of Messrs. A. H. Harry and A. T. Tait (former Vice-Principals), Dr. R. R. Wettenhall, the Rev. E. C. McLean, Messrs. D. G. Neilson and L. G. Smith, the late Mr. Roy Lamble, the office staffs of the College and the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, and several members of the committee of the O.G.C.A.

Absolute correctness of detail in history is an ideal apparently quite incapable of achievement. To err is human; every source must be suspect; every writer gives his own colouring to the facts. Mr. Redmond was worried by such thoughts in 1911, and the present workers, all perfectionists in principle, are under no delusion as to their own infallibility. They hope that a higher level of accuracy will be attained in future. To make this possible it is imperative that a system be adopted now to provide a continuum of facts, figures, names and photographs which are guaranteed authoritative at their source. An important secondary effect would certainly be a simplification of the task for those who seek to add further chapters to the College story.

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Chapter 18

IN HIS RECENTLY published history of Eton, Christopher Hollis makes it clear that his main purpose has not been "to retail anecdotes, to give the dates of the buildings, or the details of the curricula", but to "discover how Eton came to be what she is". Similarly, in appraising one hundred years of the Geelong College, it has been necessary to stand well back in order to distinguish character from anatomy.

The College archives contain a great mass (unevenly distributed over the years) of personal reminiscences, character sketches, nicknames, escapades, sporting victories and near-victories—the subjects of infinite enjoyment whenever Old Collegians meet. There is also a wealth of information on school subjects, examinations, homework and prizes. One hundred years of school punishments are, almost, but not quite, worthy of a chapter to themselves. More could be said of a greater number of the workers who have kept the College running, members of the domestic, nursing and clerical staffs, the visiting teachers and coaches, the groundsmen, maintenance workers and tuck-shop managers.

Such people and events are part of the personal College which every Old Boy carries throughout his life, and to which are added his own peculiar visions of boyhood: that first day at school—and the last; morning assembly in the Hall; lifelong friendships founded, the battle against self in long, hard training; the thrill of discovery and achievement in work and sport. But it is the first duty of a school history to delineate on a broad canvas the surroundings in which knowledge and strength, character and personality, could come to fruition; it is physically impossible to include all the details and interesting curiosities.

Moreover, both the individual and the College should be on guard against dwelling in the past, for history conveys the valuable lesson that no success, however great, can be regarded as final.

Careful readers will have observed — perhaps with a smile — that the language and outlook of the eighteen-sixties, as quoted in the early chapters of this volume, are distinctly not those of 1961. In like manner, the future will continue to bring changes to every side of life and will make present day ideas and procedures seem equally naive. There will be new educational advances, only some of which are now foreseen. The whole pattern of culture is in a state of flux; from being entirely British in 1861, it has come to possess many original Australian features, and the years ahead must bring a new cosmopolitanism, with many strong Asian accents. Such change cannot be resisted. College and Collegians alike must expect growth and movement and challenge, which can be answered only by a positive determination to keep up with the times.

For every Church School there will persist the problem of freedom from State control. It will be obviously impossible for the College to claim such independence, and at the same time provide the expected high level of education, without depending heavily on its own supporters—the Church, the Parents and Old Collegians. Unless it has this guarantee, it will fail. Just as the first century was the work of many builders, so the second will require the efforts of an even greater number, who will justify the labours of the College Founders only by their constant awareness of the living world and by dedicated service to the vision of a living school.

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It is often said that Public School education is directed to produce leaders, a statement which has been misinterpreted as a claim to privilege. The real aim is to raise men who will identify themselves with the community, make courageous decisions, and accept responsibility.

Responsibility to God and man is at the heart of education. This is what the College gives, and what it asks; it is the inner meaning of the motto so proudly borne throughout one hundred years: Sic itur ad astra.

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