About King Frog in One Little Frog-Hole: Lanka’s Decline

Introducing Richard Simon

While composing a history of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, Richard Simon has crafted an essay that praises Canon De Saram for his vision in keeping the school out of the clutches of the standardized educational platform devised by CWW Kannangara in the 1940s – despite the cost, namely, considerable privation in the trappings of the school borne for several decades. Deploying the metaphor of knowledge focused solely on the height of one’s own Piduratalagala with blanket inattention to that of Mount Everest, Simon presents a slashing criticism of the overkill in indigenization ushered in by the political processes of the 1940s to 1970s – here echoing one of Canon RS de Saram’s prize-day speeches where the latter asked: “What do they know of Ceylon who only Ceylon know?”

 CWW Kannangara 

De Saram’s rhetorical question is deployed by Richard Simon to criticize not only Sri Lanka’s educational policy: his essay is a sweeping criticism of the multi-faceted political assaults on the Westernized elites and institutions foreign that occurred during the latter half of the 20th century – a critique that readers may find far too sweeping because so brief and unelaborated.

His concluding note is set within the immediate present: “Kannangara’s education policy has proven to be a disastrous failure, whose consequences the country is suffering, as I write, in the shape of an attempted constitutional coup that may well succeed simply because too few Sri Lankans have sufficient education or understanding to understand the gravity of their loss.” That should spike interest in his blog site and this recent intervention within its portals: ……………………………………………  https://notesfromceylon.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-height-of-foreign-mountains.html

So: what indeed does one know about mountain-climbing if only Adam’s Peak we have climbed?

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Lal Hewapathirana:  “Father of Free Education: a case of victor and vanquished,” 18 October 2018,  http://www.dailynews.lk/2018/10/16/features/165564/father-free-education-case-victor-and-vanquished

Gillian Maloney: “Warden de Saram’s Words of Wisdom,” 2 June 2018 http://www.ilankanews.com/warden-de-sarams-words-wisdom/

Hugh Karunanayake: “How Royal helped spawn S. Thomas’ College,”   18 April 2016, https://thuppahis.com/2016/04/18/how-royal-helped-spawn-s-thomas-college/

Michael Roberts: The Collective Consciousness of the Sinhalese During the Kandyan Era: Manichean Images, Associational Logic,”  4 August 2917, https://thuppahis.com/2017/08/04/the-collective-consciousness-of-the-sinhalese-during-the-kandyan-era-manichean-images-associational-logic/

AN ALTERNATIVE TITLE FOR THIS ESSAY = “About Stewing in One’s Own Juices”  …… The title I have imposed on Simon’s essay is an ugly one –in keeping with an ugly history (ever so horrid at this particular moment in October-November 2018).  Another possible interpretation of Richard Simon’s caustic review is to say that he has highlighted the repercussions arising from devotion to insular indigenism.


Filed under cultural transmission, democratic measures, economic processes, education, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, taking the piss, teaching profession, unusual people

2 responses to “About King Frog in One Little Frog-Hole: Lanka’s Decline

  1. Hi, Michael. Thank you for linking to the post in your blog. I fear you credit me with a metaphor I did not invent; it originated, most likely, with Kannangara himself and was then appropriated and made better use of by Canon de Saram himself. I merely quoted him verbatim.

    • No worries. We can pat the Good Canon on the back and than him for insights which become more relevant by the day in good ole Lanka. Correction; “good old Ceylon”

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