27 July, 2007
If first you dont succeed, try, try..................and try some more.
When we here that cliché in education, ‘lifelong learning’, what does it really mean? I’m sure it means different things to different people.
For me, it has something to do with finding things that are interesting, meaningful, and give a personal sense of joy and satisfaction, and persuing those things with a sense of passion.
The recent story of Melbourne schoolteacher, and former colleague, Lambis Englezos (pictured above) fits my definition of what lifelong learning is really about. Lambis had a penchant for war history, and in particular the little known WW1 Battle of Fromelles in France.
Without going into detail, Lambis suspected there were some unaccounted Australian soldiers, known as ‘The Missing’, buried in a pit on the fields of Fromelles.
Lambis came into work one day with an aerial photo a week after the 1916 battle. In a small corner were 8 small marks in row. They could have been anything.
That’s were they are! Lambis exclaimed.I pointed out the evidence was hardly scientific. But Lambis persisted.
6 months later he came in with another ariel photo, from different source, taken days before the battle- and sure enough the pits weren’t there.
Lambis and group of supporters put their case to the Federal Government War Historians, only to be dismissed. But Lambis persisited. Years later, he unearthed a German Red-cross account of Australian soldiers being buried at a place known as Pheasant Wood- the exact location of his aerial photos. The evidence was almost irrefutable.
Finally, he unearthed family diaries that once again made mention the mass burial at Pheasant Wood. The government assured Lambis that the bodies had been recovered in later reconnaisence to reclaim bodies from European battlefields. However, after spending 12 months searching official records, War History Unit concluded that such a recovery had never taken place.
Eventually, the Australian Government relented and in May this year hired an expert panel from Glasgow University to study the site. Their finding, released last week, suggest the site has not been disturbed since 1916, and is highly likely to be the burial place of a 162 Australian soldiers, and up to 300 British soldiers.
If so, it is the largest unmarked mass grave unearthed since WW2.
Persistence, resilience, planning, strategy, self-control………sound familiar? The very attributes we are trying to teach with chess? These are the skills young people need to be equipped with from any education, that will set the foundations for lifelong learning. And something Lambis has modelled brilliantly.
The full story can be found here.