Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Teachers who served in WW1 Blackboards to Battlefields

Had a brilliant evening at the Royal Historical Society listening to a lecture on the Victorian State Govt school teachers who served in WW1, "Blackboards to Battlefields".

It's something that no one has studied or published findings on before - in any state of Australia- despite the wealth of information and first-hand experiences available.

The enlistment rate for the Victorian Ed Dept was 50% compared to a national average of 39%, with these recruits receiving a larger %, again, of British honours than the AIF and nursing services combined.

Rosalie Triolo has meticulously researched her subjects and knows their stories intimately, having spoken and corresponded with those students who knew these men in the classroom after that horrible period of time.

The stats are staggering but are a reflection of an era where these men had been, through their further education, subjected to those "propaganda" type boys' own adventure and war stories with the underlying theme of "England expects everyone to do their duty" running throughout.

Most who returned went straight back into teaching if they could, while others, like a severely disfigured chap who was one of the earliest plastic surgery patients, began the correspondence school - such was their love for teaching.

I will be looking forward to the book when it is published as, not only is it a forgotten corner of our history that effected students, their school experiences and coloured their later decisions in life, but it shows the determination of both the Education Department and these men to uphold the values and morals of a world now vanished but in doing so they contributed to a legend we take national pride in.

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