Thomas Arnold’s Reform at Rugby School

Thomas Arnold’s Reform at Rugby School

Whose horses are these? Who wants to know? The headmaster of Rugby School wants to know Some of the boys, sir, do keep them. For the steeplechasing over at Dunchurch. They gamble on them? Lord, yes, sir.
They love their gambling, the boys do And their hunting. It’s unbelievable!
They gamble, they race horses, they distil liquor. Well, you knew there was work to
be done 11-year-old boys with guns! I think you should invite some of the older boys up for tea What, here? Why not?
I’d like to meet them. They might shoot you! I’m sure they’re not half as bad as
you’re making them out to be. We shall see The qualifications which I deem
necessary for the due performance of a master’s time here may be expressed as
the combined spirits of a Christian and a gentleman. To that end I intend to make
some changes here which I trust will meet the support of you, the longest
serving, the Masters here at Rugby. What sort of changes, headmaster? Well, for
example it is my understanding that when the school gates are locked at night
there is not a single master left in the school. Leaving boys to their own devices
like this can only lead to bullying and wrongdoing. We do not see it as part of
our teaching duties to mollycoddle boys, headmaster. Many of these boys are away from home for the first time in their lives. You should be like parents to them. Headmaster, the tradition of the Rugby school has always
been that the boys discipline themselves out of teaching hours. It readies them
for the responsibilities of life, of Empire. Oh the boys will have
considerable responsibilities, you need not fear on that score, Mr. Smith. But
they will be taught in an atmosphere of pastoral care and Christian love, not in
an atmosphere where only the strongest and the cruellest survive. The Rugby way… The Rugby way will have to change Have you actually ever met a schoolboy
headmaster? They are the riotous natives, we the occupying force. They
understand this perfectly. Little is taught by dispute, sir, but everything by
sympathy and love Any questions? Good.
Then let the adventure begin. Good day gentlemen As you all know this will be my last night
in dear old School House. And I believe you have to indulge me in a few words. It has come to
my notice that bullying is on the increase in School House and it pains me
to leave at such a time Bullying is for cowards and must be
stopped You boys who are now the victims, you
have it in your power to stop it and by that I do not mean running to
masters or prefects with your fingers in your eyes. Promise yourself you won’t be
a bully when you are in the Fifth or Sixth and it will stop. Oh hear, hear!
Anyway, it only remains me to wish my successor as captain of School House all
the fortune in the world. I know you will give him your every support. Frobisher! Before I sit down, I’ll give you one last toast, a toast that should bind us together now and always: to those who have come before us and to those who are yet to come, it is this: dear old School House, the best
house of the best school in England! It is my most sincere desire to make this
school a place of Christian education What do I mean by this? I mean that there
is no time or place where we cannot serve God by serving our fellow
creatures. Roughness, coarseness, want of feeling, unkindness, cruelty, bully,
none of these qualities is to be found amongst the inhabitants of the Kingdom
of Heaven and they will not be tolerated at this school. But I will believe each
and every boy’s word as I would believe a man’s. Whatever you tell me I will
believe it. But let me assure you, gentlemen, that if you think this trust on my part
is a license for lying or deception you will find yourself deeply disappointed.
Your closest bond is not to your companions but to God. It is therefore no
disgrace for the bullied to come forward and point the finger at the bully. In
fact, it is his duty to the school, to me and to God. It is the only way we will
rid this place of the vicious and cowardly practice of systematic bullying.
To this end there will be no more horses kept at the school. The beagle pack will
be disbanded forthwith There will be no firearms kept by any
boy. There will be no gang. There will be no production or imbibing of alcohol of
any kind. This will be a great school. A Christian school for Christian gentlemen. A place of light and learning and goodness Let us pray

4 Comments on “Thomas Arnold’s Reform at Rugby School”

  1. I really only know this man through George McDonald Fraser's "Flashman" series and, tho' Stephen Fry does a lovely job humanizing him, the more you learn about him the more you think him an utter prig and the more you find yourself rooting for the Flashmans of the school.

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