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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Head-Teacher has Not Full Control

Head-Teacher has Not Full Control

of the school, has hardly any voice in the classification of his own scholars, is not entrusted with this duty, and, presumably, because he is not fit for it, is not judicious enough or not conscientious enough to be trusted with it. The department fails to trust the teacher. The consequence is a system has been set up which directly ignores the most fundamental fact in Nature. The distinguishing characteristic of Nature is variety; no two leaves alike on the trees of the same forest; no two children exactly alike in the whole colony. The distinguishing characteristic of the education system of New Zealand is uniformity—a fixed amount of work for a fixed time, and every child to do that work in the same time, with a black mark against the teacher's name if he doesn't. Nature" and the Education Department of New Zealand in direct collision—that was the great fact which the inspectors should have faced last February in Wellington, and didn't; or perhaps it would be more just to say which individuals amongst them attempted to face, but which the Conference as a whole left as it found it. We have page 6 all got so used by practice to this idea of uniformity in educational results that we scarcely realise the gross absurdity of it—a system of education founded on a principle which is in direct defiance of the most fundamental law, not only of human nature, but of all Nature. No doubt Nature will give way; invariable law will be altered to suit the exigencies of the New Zealand Education Department, which won't trust its teachers. But Nature hasn't altered yet, as witness the dissatisfaction of parents, the inferior education given, the feverish worry of school life to teachers, and children too. No, Nature hasn't altered yet; and I think it will even be necessary for the Education Department to revise its action, to withdraw its scheme, and adopt another of a more generous order. An education scheme that doesn't trust its teachers!—can you imagine anything more ludicrously absurd, even in a comic almanac. Yes, there is one thing more comically absurd: it is to see an assembly of educational experts tinkering with such a scheme, and satisfied to amend it. It doesn't admit of amendment, it must be