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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

Reforms and Improvements

Reforms and Improvements.

Mr D. White, M.A. (Otago), reported on behalf of the Committee, on the question submitted by the Wellington branch, viz :—" That the Council should lay before New Zealand teachers, in printed form, the reforms and improvements that have been carried out by the Government at its suggestion." He moved the adoption of the report, which read as follows :—

"The Committee reports on the practical results of the deliberation of" the Council since its formation in 1885. The Committee regrets that the terms of the motion on the order paper restrict the inquiry to the reforms and improvements effected by the Council, inasmuch as some of the most page 10 important results in educational work have been brought about through the agency of the various district Institutes. The Committee calls attention to this fact in order to prevent any misconception that may arise from supposing that the facts presented in the report give any adequate idea of the practical outcome of the reports and discussions of the New Zealand Educational Institute on education and educational affairs. In order properly to estimate the work of the Council, your Committee wishes to emphasize the fact that the Council has not been in existence for more than seven or eight years, and further that during the first few years whilst it was struggling to secure recognition it could not be expected that its proposals would receive that consideration which is now readily accorded to suggestions and resolutions passed by the Council. Briefly put, the 'remit' entrusted to your Committee seeks to set forth what the Council has done for the teachers of the Colony. Teachers and the University.—Owing to the representations of the Council the special privileges conferred on teachers, permitting them to proceed to the M.A. degree, were extended for several years, when a considerable number of teachers proceeded to graduation, who would not otherwise have been enabled to do so had it not been for the intervention and influence of the Council of the Institute. It is true that the privilege was withdrawn a year or two, but not without protest by the Council. The Council has asked so frequently that it almost appeared hopeless to further seek to induce the Senate to reintroduce the teacher's statute, but owing to the persistence of the Council in making representation on the subject the Senate was last year almost on the point of yielding to the request. On a motion to reinstate the clause in the statute of the University there voted for the motion eight, and against it nine. Your Committee submits that a view of the facts shows that the Council has done something for many teachers in enabling them to improve their professional status, and that it may be able to do still more if it values the encouragement and support of the teachers of the Colony. Teachers and the Standards of Education.—The Council of the Institute has given most of its time and directed most of its energy to this work. When the Council was first formed, nearly [unclear: the] whole of the subjects of instruction [unclear: were] treated as individual or pass [unclear: subjects]. 1885, at the suggestion of the Council, [unclear: this] principle of class examination was [unclear: fin] introduced into the syllabus. The [unclear: Seen] tary of the Institute drew up a full [unclear: statement] of all the reasons that could [unclear: be] advanced in favour of class [unclear: examination] and sent it to the Minister for [unclear: Education] Sir R. Stout. In the first place, the [unclear: important] principle was extended to [unclear: history] only, and in part to geography. [unclear: Subquent] representations to the [unclear: Education] Department had the effect of securing [unclear: some] securing advantages for the smaller schools of [unclear: the] Colony, notably the liberty to groups [unclear: ferent] standards in certain [unclear: subjects] instruction. Still more recently [unclear: liberi] provision was made for the better [unclear: teachings] of science in schools, by allowing [unclear: the] teachers themselves to prepare a [unclear: three] years' course of lessons. It is [unclear: scarcety] necessary to say that the recent [unclear: interview] with the Minister for Education was [unclear: the] means of securing beneficial [unclear: modification] in the standards of education. It may [unclear: be] advisable to re-state these in succinct [unclear: form]—(a) That grammar has been made a [unclear: class] subject in all the standards except [unclear: the] fourth; (b) that the geography of [unclear: Standards] III. and V. has been very [unclear: considerably] reduced in amount; (c) that the principle of stricter definition takes [unclear: the] place of vague enumeration; (d) that in the matter of history a period of a [unclear: hundred] years has been excised from Standard [unclear: VI,] and permission given to teachers to [unclear: make] a selection of events in each period [unclear: upon] which the examination may be based. [unclear: In] connection with this branch of the [unclear: Council's] work, your Committee would call [unclear: to] mind that it has been the consistent [unclear: aim] of the Institute from first to last to [unclear: try] and educate the public to the pernicious effects of 'passes' and [unclear: 'percentages.'] When individual passes and percentage were most in favour with the public and the inspectorate, the Council was offering strenuous opposition to the whole system. Teachers and Inspectors.—A member of the Institute represented that the Inspectors of his district had set examination paper which, in his opinion, were wholly beyond the requirements of the syllabus. The Council of the Institute appealed to the Minister for Education, when a memorandum was sent by the Minister to the page 11 Inspector informing the latter that he had exceeded the limits of his authority in setting questions of the kind indicated in the copies of the examination papers forwarded to the Minister for Education. The Council of the Institute has never refused to consider any representation referred to in the above - mentioned. Teachers and Teachers' Salaries.—On any occasion when any retrenchment has been imminent, when such retrenchment would have proved injurious to the cause of education the Council has made strenuous efforts to prevent its being carried out. Your Committee does not intend to present in detail all the statements that have been from time to time submitted to both Houses of Parliament. It will be necessary to instance the action taken by the Council when it was proposed by some to raise the school age to six, and by others to seven. The Council, in tabulated form, showed the result of any such action on the smaller schools of the Colony owing to the reduction of the capitation allowance, and made a comparative statement showing the school age in other countries and the Colonies. A printed copy, giving additional reasons against the proposal, was sent to every member of both Houses of Parliament. The statement was read in the House and the fact and reasons appear in the pages of Hansard. It reached members at an opportune moment and, ac-cording to the testimony of members of the House, was largely the means of preventing the school age being raised. Tour Committee wishes to call attention to the financial results of this action of the Council. Had the age been raised, teachers' salaries would have been reduced by a sum of, £10,000 had the age been raised to six, and by £20,000 if it had been raised to seven. It is scarcely necessary to say that the Council deserves credit for the prompt and effective action taken on this occasion. Teachers and the Education Department.—The Council, by frequent interviews with successive Ministers for Education and with the Inspector-General, has been enabled to create and maintain very friendly relations between the Education Department and teachers—relatione that cannot fail to be productive of good to the cause of education and to the teaching pro-fession. To such an extent has the work of the Council been recognised as useful and important work that the Government-has been pleased to show its appreciation thereof by an annual grant towards the expenses of the annual meeting of the Council. Your Committee is not quite sure how far it is fair to the Council to attempt to judge of the success of its work by parading on paper a number of specific reforms or modifications of the education system. In the opinion of your Committee much good and useful work done by such a body as the Council of the Institute must necessarily be of a somewhat intangible and indirect kind—of a kind, that is to say, that will not easily lend itself to precise and formal statement or definition. The influence and work of the Institute must not be judged of solely by the number of instances which the Institute may definitely point to as the result of its work and discussions, though even looked at from this point of view, the résumé which your Committee has presented shows some by no means insignificant results. The statement gives a very incomplete notion of the work done by the whole Institute, inasmuch as your Committee has confined its attention to giving information about the transactions of the Council, omitting altogether the large amount of useful work done by the various district Institutes. Your Committee recommends that the district Institutes be requested to per-pare a statement of the results of their labours, and forward the same to the Secretary of the Institute before the next annual meeting. The Council will then be in a position to put the information in handy form, when your Committee recommends that the whole statement be printed for the use of members, and that copies of it will be sent to every teacher in the Colony. Your Committee is of opinion that such a step will have the effect of enlisting the sympathy and support of a large number of teachers who take at present little or no interest in the proceedings of the Institute.

Mr Worthington seconded the adoption of the report, suggesting the addition of a very hearty vote of thanks to the Committee for its labour.

Messrs T. S. Foster and J. Rennie having spoken on the subject, the report was adopted, and a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to the Committee.