Official Guide to the Government Court: N.Z. Centennial Exhibition
Education in New Zealand.
If you have not been inside a New Zealand school during the past 25 years you may feel some reluctance to enter the Education Court. Schools, as you remember them, perhaps, were given up mostly to chalk and talk, to pencil and paper, to the drilling of the three R's, and you may wonder what they could offer for exhibition beyond the blotted copy-books of your memories. Should this be your state of mind, you are due for a pleasant surprise when you visit the Education Court sheltering beneath its great revolving globe. 'Surrounded by an amazing display of works of art, of children's crafts in metal and wood and fabrics, of delicate examples of engineering skill, of photographs and models of bright school buildings and grounds like well-kept parks, you may well wonder what it all has to do with education as you knew it.page 40
The schools have certainly moved far since some of us sat on those long, wooden benches, and, looking around you in the Education Court, you cannot doubt that the change has been for the good. The three R's are taught as well as ever, but it has been realised that education is concerned with the whole child—with his body as well as his brain, his emotions as well as his intellect, his leisure as well as his livelihood. The things you see around you are not just the "frills" of education.
You will see colour and joy and imagination in the exhibits, but you will also see skill and hard work and self-disciipline. If you can look at this Court with an understanding eye you will know what modern education is really aiming at.
In the past 50 years the school system has changed not only in the kind of education it offers, but also in its extent. Fifty years ago education beyond the primary school was considered a luxury meant only for the gifted or the wealthy few. To-day every child up to the age of 19 years has a right to a free education of the kind for which his interests and abilities best fit him, and no less than 65 per cent, of our children go on to some type of full-time post-primary education. (Interesting diagrams showing the growth of free post-primary schooling are exhibited.) In the Court little attempt has been made to separate the work of secondary and of technical schools, for the two types of school have much in common, and both are in the fullest sense schools of the people, where differences of wealth and rank count for nothing.
The Education Department is the Government authority responsible for the education system, but, although this exhibit is in the Government Court, the Department would not pretend in any sense to claim full credit for it. The school system-can be carried on only because thousands of interested persons, unpaid as well as paid, do the work of education throughout the whole country. The real point at which education goes on is in the relation between teacher and children, and the whole mechanism of administration exists to make this relationship as full and fruitful as it can be. The Education Department controls directly only the native schools, the Correspondence School and cei rain special schools. For the rest, it works through nine Education Boards and 45 Post-primary Boards of Governors or Boards of Managers. Every primary school, again, has its own committee, elected by householders, who know the special needs of the area. It is the Department's business to see that a high standard of education is maintained throughout the system as a whole. Through its handling of Government grants for schools, its inspectors, its grading of teachers and control of the syllabus, it ensures that every child, rich or poor, in town or country, is given, as far as possible, the same opportunity of developing all his faculties in the way that suits him best. How well all these interlocking authorities and their thousands of servants have done their job you will be able to judge from this Exhibition.