The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 24
(The "Evening Star" Dunklin.")
(The "Evening Star" Dunklin.")
The little book entitled the "Savings Bank in the School," which we have received from Mr. Dalrymple, the Secretary of the "Society for Encouraging Habits of Thrift among the Young People of this Colony," is one of the most valuable contributions to our educational literature that we have seen for a very long time. It differs from most works of a similar kind in one very important respect—its contents are not the mere enunciation of an educational theory which it may never be possible to test, and which, if tested, may be found to answer well, or, to be a total failure. On the contrary, it gives us an account of an educational experiment which has been thoroughly tried, and proved to lead to most beneficial results. . . . . . . The thing can be done then. The success of the Belgium experiment is unquestionable. The only questions then to be decided by the people of Otago before they determine to initiate a similar system, are—first, is it desirable that children should receive such training? And, secondly, would it be possible to work the system here? Probably one of the most valuable faculties which men can possess is that which enables them to postpone present enjoyment with a view to future advantage, or the avoidance of future evils. Those who have this faculty tolerably well developed, generally manage to get through life comfortably and respectably; to those who have it not, life, almost from page 24 the cradle to the grave, is as a rule, a succession of disasters. Unfortunately in most cases the power of self-restraint is naturally very imperfect, and has to be cultivated if it is to do its work thoroughly. Not unfrequently surrounding circumstances give this cultivation to a child at an early age, and he may start in the race of life certain to win such prizes as life affords. In very many cases the cultivation of the faculty of self-restraint is effectively brought about by stern experience, which teaches, often in no very pleasant way, that it is impossble to "eat the cake and have it." Sometimes the needful moral culture is never attained, and then the unfortunate who is without it lives from hand to mouth—a veritable dog's life—if he can manage to live at all. Now it seems to us quite undeniable that if you can got a child at an early age to adopt the habit of perpetually making such small sacrifices as are involved in the deposit of a penny in the Savings Bank instead of in the lollipop shop, in order that a sufficient sum of money may be at last obtained to accomplish some really useful object, much, very much will have been done in the way of giving him that moral culture, that self-restraint which he is so sure to need in after life. But it is unnecessary to enlarge on this; the advantage of such training is perfectly obvious. "With regard to the second point—the possibility of working the system in New Zealand—we need only say that we have the same machinery here as they have in Belgium. If the Government would make some trifling alterations in the Post-office Savings Bank regulations, operations could be commenced by our local Society forthwith.