As the Fairfield community welcomed Paul Cavana to Warde this past May, a group of passionate Mustangs were not pleased with the continuation of the title “Headmaster” which his successor, David Ebling, similarly donned.
Following Andrew Warde High School’s establishment in 1956, all subsequent school leaders have assumed the title “Headmaster” with the secondary administrators being referred to as “Housemasters.”
However, concerns have emerged regarding the negative power dynamic “master” connotes along with hopes to head a convincing argument for the modification to “Principal.”
Though linguistically denoting a proficient and cultivated expert, the historical use of “master” manifests connotations of slavery, specifically the domination of a man over inferiors, inspiring action in many devout community members.
Among the few zealous advocates of the concern is Warde English Teacher Mr. Whaley who was an early proponent of the idea.
Conceptualized by fellow teachers about five years ago, Mr. Whaley voiced that he sees anyone being a master over someone else as problematic, speaking to the paramount idea “words matter.” He explained that the use of “master” corroborates power structure and subservience while “principal” speaks to a leader of a community and additionally conveying that obtrusive titles affect human interactions.
Dr. Faber is additionally devout to the cause, similarly viewing “master” as an assertion of dominance through elitist language while alluding to the affront of slavery. Dr. Faber revealed that in “an increasingly diverse society” the use of “master” is “uncomfortable, rare for public schools..and it is time for some language that is less historically and racially complicated”
Though these voices are fervid, teachers outside the concentration of the Upper Fitts English department claimed to not have heard the aforementioned claims. Further, Mr. Whaley, one of the leaders of Warde’s student council, revealed little to nothing is being discussed in a professional setting to prompt change.
**If any readers are interested in involving themselves in the cause through student council, they are encouraged to see Mr. Whaley in his Upper Fitts classroom to learn more.
When polling a sample of the student population, 47% supported the move to renounce the title of “headmaster,” 31% opposed it and 22% did not harbor a strong belief, seeing it as “just a title” as one student proclaimed.
Warde sophomore Sarah Green, expressed she was against change, saying that “that’s the way it’s always been.” Another student with a shared opinion remarked, “Paul deserves a proper title, but it is kinda power-heavy.” Another large concern is that both Ludlowe and Warde would have to agree on a joint decision which could be a lengthy and taxing process.
The pertinent issue of the usage of “headmaster” illuminates the historical nuances of the English language. Paul Cavana has yet to provide direct comment though he was heard to liken the use of headmaster to that of Harry Potter. While a playful comparison, it has been illuminated that “headmaster” does not set the right tone.
“The more we pay attention to issues like this, the more sincere our relationships become,” said Mr. Whaley.