In the Media

Published on April 25th, 2014 | by St Peter's College

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Young minds now more inquiring

St Peter’s College school captains Darcy Kraljev, left, and Max Buttignol with war veteran Dr Rex J Lipman AO ED. Picture: Roger Wyman. Source: News Corp Australia. Journalist:  Jordanna Schriever, Education Reporter, The Advertiser, Friday 25 April 2014. 

CURIOUS minds and a demand for instant answers are fuelling a resurgence of interest in Anzac Day among South Australia’s youth.

Not only are students more interested than ever before in what shaped the way Australia is today, school leaders and the RSL believes today’s youth are more likely to actively pursue the answers.

At Scotch College, which was founded in 1919 as a memorial school to the ‘Sons of Scotland’ who served in the First World War, the students learn about their former peers who formed the 2/27th Battalion of the AIF.

Each year the students join the few remaining survivors of the 2/27th Battalion of the AIF to pay their respects by laying Australian flags on the graves of returned servicemen and women at Centennial Park Cemetery.

They also gather at Adelaide’s National War Memorial on North Tce in the lead-up to Remembrance Day every year to lay crosses in memory of the day the guns fell silent on the Western Front in France and Belgium to end four years of First World War hostilities.

But Scotch College principal Tim Oughton said students now are generally more inquisitive about history.

“Because they’ve got so much information at their fingertips they can access that information much more readily — they want to know so they find out,” he said.

He said technology, particularly internet-based tools like YouTube, were significant in changing the way students learned about war.

“They are keen to learn, keen to find out more — they have a genuine interest in the nation’s past,” he said.

He said the school believed students should have an awareness of the importance of Australia’s involvement in world conflict.

“(We also) believe that the heroic efforts of the many thousands of Australians who fought in war should not be forgotten as time passes,” Mr Oughton said.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to the many brave men and women who risked their lives defending our country, particularly those who were killed in battle, so it’s fitting that students continue to learn about and acknowledge the selfless acts of those who sacrificed their lives defending their country.”

Similarly, St Peter’s College is linked to the 10th and 2/10th Battalions.

Headmaster Simon Murray said the school had built and devoted memorials including a hall, archway and headstone to their old scholars who had fought or died in conflict.

Numerous old scholars have been recognised including Arthur Blackburn who was awarded a Victoria Cross “for most conspicuous bravery”.

“Our school motto is Pro Deo et Patria, which means For God and Country,” Mr Murray said.

“The whole focus here is for service, we live and breathe that at school.”

To mark Anzac Day, school leaders will lay 362 crosses — one for each of the school’s old scholars who died at war.

While the school’s connections were a point of interest for students, Mr Murray said students were showing a rising interest in Australia’s past and the conflicts which helped define the nation because more detail about Australia’s history was known and recognised.

“Young people do have a growing interest in what they are being taught at school about Anzac Day and also about the sense of service and that these men had done something important for our country,” Mr Murray said.

“It’s not them being drawn to it as a celebration of war. They are drawn to it because of the recognition of service.

“We understand the history better in all the right ways and they feel drawn to honour that.

Mr Murray said that deeper understanding among young people today meant students were now more likely to want to attend dawn services to show their respect for the country’s history and those who fought in Australia’s honour.

RSL spokesman and Vietnam veteran David Everitt said the younger generation and the schools that teach them continue to show more interest than ever in Australia’s involvement in wars.

“They are more conscious of where they are going and more interested in finding out what happened in the past,” he said.

“They want to know what happened and be able to own it.”

“There’s an inquisitiveness that I believe is brought about because of this electronic society.”

Mr Everitt, who has given several talks with school groups, said students always asked why Australia was involved in prior wars and what would happen now.

“When I talk to young people today, they are always fascinated, they always ask questions about what it was like at the time.”

He said learning about war as part of the nation’s history was important because it showed how Australia had come of age over the past 100 years since WWI began.

“There’s an old Vietnamese saying: ‘If you don’t know where you have been, it’s very difficult to know where you are going’,” he said.

“Students today are interested in the politics of war and whether it would happen today.”

 

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