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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Seventeenth Annual Report of the Educational Institute of Otago 1893-94

Seventeenth Annual Report of the Educational Institute of Otago 1893-94.

The Committee of Management beg to lay before members the Seventeenth Annual Report of the Institute.

During the year six meetings of Committee have been held, at which the average attendance of members has been nine.

Meeting of the Council of the N.Z. Educational Institute.

The Council of the N.Z. Educational Institute met at Nelson in January of this year; when the Otago Branch was represented by Dr. Chilton and Messrs. W. Davidson, R. G. Whetter, and John Reid. Copies of the report of the meeting of Council have already been sent to Branches; and others will be distributed amongst members at the Annual Meeting in Dunedin, when delegates will report as to the business done.

The business considered by this year's Council was of unusual interest to teachers; and the attention of members is particularly directed to the report of the committee on the status and payment of teachers, and especially to those sections dealing with the proposed Court of Appeal for teachers.

From a communication lately sent to this Institute by the General Secretary, your Committee were pleased to learn that there is every likelihood that the Hon. Minister for Education will, during the coming session, introduce a Bill to establish a Court of Appeal.

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Your Committee are pleased to note that members continue to show keen interest in the election of delegates to the Council. Nominations of members willing to act as delegates will be taken at the Annual Meeting; and an opportunity will be given to Branches to make additional nominations before the ballot papers are distributed.

The next meeting of Council will be held at Invercargill in January, 1895.

The Inspectors' Conference.

The following resolution formed part of the report presented to last year's meeting of Council by the Executive of the General Institute:—"That examination of primary and secondary schools should be placed under the Central Department, and meanwhile, that a Conference of Inspectors should be arranged."

Acting on this suggestion of the Executive, the Hon. Minister for Education invited the Inspectors to meet in conference at Wellington during the first week of February, 1894. The invitation was accepted by all the Inspectors in the Colony; and matters of the greatest interest to teachers were discussed.

The Hon. Minister for Education, with his usual courtesy, supplied the Institute with copies of the minutes of the Inspectors' Conference. These were sent to Branches, and your Committee, after considering the Branch reports, sent to the Executive of the General Institute a series of resolutions dealing with the matters discussed by the inspectors. With the great majority of the inspectors' recommendations your Committee heartily agreed, but, for reasons given below, they strongly opposed the following motion passed at the Conference of Inspectors:—"That arrangements be made for revising the classification of teachers on some such basis as the following:—If for three years in succession a local inspector assigns to a teacher lower marks for efficiency than he has before received, the Inspector-General of Schools, or another inspector acting as his deputy, shall see the teacher's work, and decide whether his marks are to be lowered or left unchanged, when if his marks are lowered by the Inspector-General or his deputy, the teacher's classification shall also be lowered."

With regard to the above motion the following resolutions were sent to the Executive:—"That the Institute thoroughly disapproves of the recommendation to lower teachers' certificates as proposed on page 9 of the report for the following reasons:—(1) That the Education Department by means of its regulations for the classification and promotion of teachers provided numerous page 6 safeguards against hasty or undeserved promotion. Under these regulations the inspectors already have it in their power to withhold marks to prevent a teacher from reaching the highest division of his class, although he may have 30 or 40 years' experience as a public school teacher. (2) That no sufficient reason has been given for an increase in the discretionary powers of the inspectors. (3) That the inspectors' annual reports to the Boards of Education disclose no reason for supposing that there is any marked inefficiency on the part of teachers, calling for any interference with the existing system of classification and promotion; on the contrary, the inspectors speak in the highest terms of the character and work of the teachers in their various districts. (4) That the proposal to give the inspectors power to lower the grade of a teacher's certificate, if carried into effect, would give rise in the minds of most teachers to an undesirable feeling of insecurity and anxiety that would inevitably prove detrimental to the teaching profession, and to the cause of education. (5) That the fear of being reduced by the inspectors would be most keenly felt by the best teachers, who require no further stimulus to do their work well, whilst it would have no practical effect on the kind of teacher it is intended to reach, who is supposed already to be dead to all sense of duty. (6) That by means of unfavourable reports to Education Boards endorsed on the teacher's certificate, the inspectors have at present sufficient power to prevent inefficient teachers being promoted in the service, and that as under the present system there is power to remove or dismiss incompetent teachers, the Institute hopes that the Minister for Education will not impose any further restrictions on the rights of teachers in the way proposed by the recommendation referred to."

In his opening address at the Inspectors' Conference the Inspector-General spoke as follows:—"I have the strongest possible sympathy with the proposal for a considerable increase in the number of reading-books. Modern school-readers are very small books, printed in large type, with much space devoted to illustrations, words selected for spelling, and so on. The allowance of one such book for a year's reading is absurdly small and inadequate. The ordinary treatment of the reading-lesson is too laborious and slow to afford much practice in reading, or to allow the pupil to experience any of the satisfaction that cultivated people find in reading for information or for recreation. New or difficult words are selected for definition or for spelling; the drift and scope of the passage are explained; the reading of a sentence is criticised or it is corrected by the teacher's own reading, which has afterwards to be imitated; the passage is so short, that when a few pupils have read a few sentences each the end is reached, and the page 7 others have to go over the ground a second or a third time, after it has ceased to have any interest for them except as a reading exercise, and so on. I have no fault to find with this method if it is not exclusively employed, but I hold that, taken by itself, it neither affords sufficient practice, nor tends to create or foster a love of reading. One or two lessons a week of this strict kind may be necessary for a time at a certain stage of progress, and an occasional lesson of the same type is useful even in advanced stages, if the passage read is highly rhetorical and is worthy of minute study as a piece of literary work. But for the other reading lessons of the week I hold that it would be better to supply constantly fresh interesting matter, to be read continuously with few interruptions by way of correction, and to be read as much for the pleasure of reading as for practice in reading. Four or five books instead of one would be required in the course of a year. One book might be of the customary type of our ordinary school-readers, and this might be used for the strict and orthodox reading-lesson. The others might be exchanged about once in three months, being passed on from school to school. Biography, descriptive geography, historical tales and records of brilliant episodes, natural history, fairy tales, New Zealand history; and for very young classes, simple stories of cats and dogs or of children might be read quarter by quarter in rotation. The books on my plan would belong to the Education Board, which would arrange for the periodical exchange of parcels. The first cost in these days of cheap books would not be great. The books would last very much longer than those which belong to the pupils, and which are worn out not so much by use, as by being rammed into pockets or satchels, or thrown under hedges during play-time, or saturated with rain and scorched by the sun. The demand for uniformity is based almost entirely on the question of cost, and would soon die out under the influence of an interesting and instructive variety cheaply secured. And our children would, as a rule, learn to read."

Your Committee adopted the following resolution dealing with the matter referred to by the Inspector-General:—"That the members of the Otago Educational Institute, being impressed with the importance of inculcating in the minds of their pupils a desire for reading healthy and pure literature, are of opinion that the present requirements in reading do not tend to produce this effect; and think that some change like that suggested by the Inspector-General of Schools in opening the Inspectors' Conference would be both practicable and advantageous. This Institute, therefore, strongly recommends this matter to the attention of the Executive."

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The General Election.

Before last general election, your Committee appointed a sub-committee to watch the interests of education in this electoral district. Among the steps taken by the sub-committee, was the sending of the following circular to every candidate for parliamentary honours in the Otago district:—

Normal School, Dunedin,

Dear Sir,

The Otago Educational Institute would be obliged by your answering the following question at your earliest convenience:—

"If elected to a seat in the House of Representatives, would you support a grant in aid of denominational schools?"

Any answer you may make to the above question will be published in the newspapers circulating in your electoral district.

I am,

Yours faithfully,

John R. Don.

Hon. See. Otago Educational Institute.

Members of the Institute are doubtless aware that the education question was very much in evidence during the late election contest; and the Committee consider that it is a matter for congratulation, that so many pledged supporters of the education system were elected to the House of Representatives last year.

Resolution Sent to the Education Board.

During the year circumstances arose which rendered it necessary that the following resolution should be sent to the Education Board:—"That this Institute desires respectfully to draw the attention of the Education Board to the undesirability of discussing in open Board matters affecting the professional reputation of the teachers employed by the Board, since the publication of such discussion in the newspapers necessarily damages the reputation of the teacher whose case is being considered, and may prevent even those who are admitted by the Board to be capable teachers from obtaining new appointments."

Place of General Meeting.

In accordance with a motion passed at last annual meeting, your Committee considered the advisability of holding the Annual Meeting at some other centre than Dunedin. After giving the matter full consideration, your Committee have come to the conclusion that, for the present year at all events, it is not advisable to change the place of meeting.

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The Annual Meeting.

This year's Annual Meeting will be held on the 5th, 6th, and 7th July in the Normal School, the use of which has been kindly granted by the Education Board. The Board has also agreed to send to School Committees a circular informing them of the date of the Annual Meeting.

Members will see by the Branch Reports attached that increased interest is being taken in the work of the Institute; the Committee therefore look forward with confidence to a large attendance at this year's meeting.

Branch Reports.

Reports from the Dunedin, Bruce-Clutha, Central Otago and Waitaki Branches are attached.

In April of this year, your Committee, being anxious to see the Waitaki Branch re-established, sent a circular to all the teachers of North Otago, inviting them to meet a deputation from the Committee of Management at Oamaru, in order to discuss the advisability of re-establishing a Branch of the Institute in that district. In response to this circular, a large and representative gathering of teachers from all parts of the Waitaki district met the President and Dr. Chilton who formed the deputation, and after matters had been fully discussed, it was decided that the Waitaki Branch should be re-established.

Your Committee desire to congratulate the teachers of the Waitaki district on the re-formation of their Branch, and to wish the new Branch a useful and prosperous career.

The Committee hope soon to have the pleasure of congratulating the teachers of Tuapeka on the re-establishment of the Branch in their district. If this were done, the teachers of all parts of Otago would be fully represented by the Otago Educational Institute.

Signed on behalf of the Committee of Management,

W. Davidson, President.

J. R. Don, Secretary.