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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

My Most Emphatic Protest

My Most Emphatic Protest.

If a man has got any enthusiasm for the work of education in him he will need no personal pressure to excite him to exertion; and if he is wanting in this enthusiasm your only alternative is to get rid of him altogether—degrading him will do no good, From every point of view this unfortunate suggestion is bad; it is another attempt at compromise, and, like most compromises, it will do a great deal of harm and no good. It is the resource of the weak, and I refuse to believe that the Education Department of New Zealand will stoop to such a policy, or put this dishonor upon its teachers. Let promotion be as slow and as difficult as you like, as slow and as difficult as every wise inspector makes it; let full proof be required of a man before you raise his status, but when once it is done let it be done for life; let it be as irreversible as a university degree, more irrevokable than a freehold grant; then it will be something worth working for, ennobling the recipient. The teacher who has thoroughly earned his promotion before he has received it will have passed beyond the stage of the mere hireling—he will have acquired a second nature and developed the instincts of the educator. Such a man may be relied upon to do his duty apart from the fear of degradation. At any rate, the exceptions will be very few, and it would be indeed a shortsighted policy that should degrade a whole profession for the sake of reaching one or two unworthy individuals, who probably represent after all just an inspector's blunder. Improper promotions are sure to be made where an inspector allows his teachers to write to him and even speak to him about their own promotion. Let such doings be made penal, as every self-respecting teacher would wish, and there will he little need to impair the tenure of the status. As I have already said: I refuse to believe that the department will adopt the recommendation referred to; but should it do so it will not be the teaching profession alone that will be be degraded thereby; it will be the whole population of the colony, the character of the children in which will in future be determined and moulded by men and women working under an unworthy influence—that of fear, the taskmaster's lash. If, instead of growing up manly, generous, and conscientious, our young people develope something of the mean spirit of the slave, we shall know whom we have to thank for it. You cannot degrade the educator without degrading his scholars also.