The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 6 (October 1, 1930)
Boy and Man
Boy and Man.
When does a colonial boy become a man? was a debatable question raised by a Christchurch civic dignitary the other day. This speaker, Deputy-Mayor Thacker, thought it was ridiculous to apply the term “boy” to males of twenty-two or so, as was so often done. When he was young he believed he was a man when he was sixteen. As for girls, it was “a perfect humbug” to have young women called girls.
There is much sound sense in this view of a much-abused term. Perhaps the practice of calling men boys sprang up during the Great War; and the girls'—or young women's—way of describing their sweethearts as boys, irrespective of age, has perpetuated it. Also, some parents keep their male offspring at secondary page 26 schools long after the age at which they ought to be out in the world earning a living.
In this age of luxury perhaps lads develop into men at a later age than they did in our pioneering days. The selfreliant life of the country makes men early. It is said by historians of the American frontier that when a boy of the backwoods attained the age of twelve he was given a gun and was allotted a loophole to defend in the stockade of the settlement or of the home in those days of Indian raids. It was much the same among the Maoris. A well-grown lad of about twelve was regarded as able to march out on the war-path, and several old warriors have told me that they first accompanied their elders on fighting expeditions at that age. In my own country-bred experience the farm boy matured earlier than his town contemporary; he was doing a man's work at a year when town boys were at school or college. No doubt the country boy lost much by this lack of leisurely education on the other hand he learned while young to knockabout for himself, and his horizon was wider than that of the town boy.
Many a boy does not begin his real education until after he leaves school, and in many cases it does seem a fearful waste of valuable time and opportunity for self-development to continue at college imbibing an artificial kind of knowledge at an age when one should be doing a man's part in the world.