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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Section V. — Other Lectures and Addresses. — The Teacher as a Creative Agent

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Section V.

Other Lectures and Addresses.

The Teacher as a Creative Agent.

Dr Truby King's lecture before the Otago Education Institute on July 13 was delivered mostly in the dark, because of the exigencies of limelight demonstration. Therefore, in note-taking, our reporter had to make hazard shots at his copy paper; but, thanks to the lecturer's admirable method of imparting information and creating actual memory (this will be made more or less clear below), we are able to give the following sketch of the address. This article does not pretend to be a detailed record of all that Dr King said in the course of nearly three hours' speaking; it is rather an impression of the lecture condensed to fit available space.

In the beginning, then, the doctor explained that he had been asked by the secretary of the Institute to give an address upon some educational subject. He had already said a good deal upon the matter of education, but felt that it was a great compliment to be asked to speak again before an assemblage of teachers, and so he was really glad to have this opportunity. Among teachers there might occasionally have been a slight misunderstanding as to his point of view. Certainly the last thing that would have occurred to him would have been to say anything uncomplimentary to members of a profession for which he had always had the highest respect, and to which many of his most intimate personal friends belonged. Nothing that he had to say was personal in regard to individuals, and most of his remarks were not particular in regard to New Zealand. Anything critical that he had uttered had applied largely to modern education the world over. He explained that one expression for which he had been specially taken to task was not really his own, but a quotation from Canon Lynelton, the head-master of Eton, who had said, in effect, when speaking to an assembly of schoolmasters, that the work of teaching under existing conditions had become largely a matter of imparting' ta pupils the happy knack of deceiving examiners. It was quite clear what Cace Lyttelton meant—viz., that when teacher ground children for an examination of material got unsuperficially, and to be dropoed immediately afterwards, he did not think that real knowledge was accuired, though it might satisfy the examiners. No doubt Canon Lytelton war strictly justified in what he said, and the speaker agreed with him. He had recently spoken and written somewhat fully on education, educational reformers, arid the evils of over-pressure. Further, be had advocated play and games in connection with school life as a compulsory part of the curriculum, essential not only for the body but for the full development of mind and spirit. His intention in this lecture was to speak largely from a medi cal or physiological point of view. It was one of those matters in which the members of one profession might possibly be of some assistance to the members of another profession.—(Applause.) The task of giving a name to his lecture be-forehand had been difficult. The ten "creator" was not strictly correct, because creation was beyond the power of man. As Grove said in his classic 'Cor-relation of the Physical Forces': "Causation is the will of God; creation is the act of God." What he meant by page 57 calling the teacher a "creative agent" was to convey in a phrase the stupendous power and responsibility of the man engaged in building up for good or evil the body, mind, and spirit of his fellow-beings. If anyone could be called the creator of an individual it was the schoolster because on him actually depended structure to some extent of every organ of the body of his pupil, and especially the actual structure and pattern of the brain and nervous system, on which so much of the after life of the individual depended.* Another thought arose secondarily, and that was that one should not look upon education narrowly from the point of view of teacher or pupil alone, or of both combined. One must look at it also—particularly at compulsory State education—from a national point of view, and he intended to show secondarily, certain points by which he might fairly illustrate to how great an extent the teacher might be a creator from the merely material standpoint—a creator not only of competent human beings, but of the prosperity, the development, and the material resources and wealth of a country.

* As some of Dr King's critics publicly expressed incredulity in regard to the teacher influencing the actual structure of the nervous system of his pupils, he supplies the following extract from the most recent and authoritative work on the subject from the point of view of practical education :—

The Education of the Central Nervous System.

By R. P. Halleck, M.A. (Yale.)

It has been known for some time that the higher processes of thought are dependent on modifications in brain cells, and that the highest intellectual superstructure can be no firmer than the sensory foundation, but this knowledge has not been properly applied in training these cells. Practical application of truths lags far behind a theoretical knowledge of them. . . .

In education, the world has not yet practically realised the very important truth that youthful nerve cells alone are easily modified by training. The old theory that education consists solely in modifications in an immaterial entity has worked untold damage. It was argued that the immaterial never grew old, and that it could be trained as well at one time as at another. From this mistaken notion arose such adages as : "It is never too late to be what you might have been." It would be nearer the truth to say : "It is always too late to be what you might have been." With each advancing year, this becomes an absolute truth in the case of the vast majority who have reached the age of twenty.

It may be true, as we believe it to be, that education consists in developing a mind as well as mere brain cells: but the mind, for its materials, is completely at the mercy of the nervous system. A well-trained nervous system is the greatest friend that the mind can have. All ill-trained nervous system is a relentless enemy to the higher mental powers. It follows its victims and thwarts then aims until the pitying grave stops it. . . .

Roughly speaking, the plasticity of nerve cells is inversely proportional to their age. A wood chopper may sharpen his axe as well the next week or the next year; a man owning mineral land may mine the coal now or wait twenty years" as he chooses, knowing that it will not deteriorate. But the nervous system can be effectively trained only in youth. An adult may be approximately defined as the sum of his youthful nerve reactions, which tend to perpetuate themselves.

. . . . Anything reasonable can be done with the youthful nervous system. If the training is deferred, it will soon be too late to accomplish much. Habits are early formed, and after they have once become fixed they rule us with the grasp of a Titan.

Growth of Plants.

All this by way of clearing the ground. Then came the pictures, and the light went out. The first slide was one representing fundamental experiments showing plants supplied with different foods, the effects on growth being very remarkable. Here began the material explanations of psychic phenomena. As Dr King said : "You cannot properly grasp the fundamental problems affecting the life and health of man unless you start somewhere near the beginning." The building up of the body of an animal was in many respects similar to the building up of a plant, and one had to be just as careful in the one case as in the other in regard to supplying the proper materials and ensuring a suitable environment, ex- page 58 cept that the higher we rose in each kingdom the more delicate, sensitive, and complex became the organisms, and the mora care we had to exercise to ensure perfect growth and development. There were certain laws that must be observed, and it was easier to see the operation of these laws on plants than in human beings, not only because plants were simpler, but because experiments could be made with more facility in the one case than in the other. One found that each genus had its special requirements without which it would not flourish. Nature determined these things, not man. Certain plants—clover, for instance—flourished, as shown in the illustration, on potash and phosphates, if water and a suitable mechanical basis of support were provided. The addition of nitrogen scarcely affected the growth. In the case of hemp, on the other hand, a nitrogen compound was essential, and until it was supplied almost no growth took place. We do not attempt to dictate the terms in a chemical experiment. Nature lays down the law and does the work: we merely assist, and stand by to see that she has fair play. So it is with all the complex processes that go on in plant's and animals. These processes are associated with complex chemical changes taking place in connection with living cells. The fundamental laws and requirements for each kind of being are pre-determincd. Human beings are no exception, and we must either conform to the fundamental laws of Nature or go under.

Brain and Nerve Cells.

After that there were slides showing diagrams of the brain and nervous system and photo micrographs taken by Dr Mann, Ford-Robertson, and others. It was explained how ingoing impulses were conveyed through the sensory nerves to the cells of the brain and spinal cord, and outgoing impulses to the muscles, glands, etc. Then attention was centred on a small spot of the highest region of the brain, the size of a large pin's head in reality, but magnified to cover the screen. (See Fig. II. Opposite page.) Here were the actual psychic cells—the cells upon which depend our thoughts, memories, feelings, and consciousness. They looked like leafless trees with tall, slim trunks and a tracery of delicate branches and infinitely slender twigs above and roots below. Here was the obvious physical basis for the association of ideas, impulses passing from one nerve cell to another through the twigs and rootlets. This was the highest central department. Here incoming messages were received, registered, deliberated over, and dealt with, and outgoing messages were despatched. See Fig. III., page 60. It was like a central telephone bureau, the communications and switchings taking place by contact from fibril to twig and from twig to twig or rootlet to rootlet of neighboring cells. Upon the proper cultivation and orderly growth of the ramifications of the psychic cells depend the capacity and resourcefulness of the mind. There can be no reasonable doubt that the growth which would be promoted by moderate and normal stimulation would be marred by overs train or other inimical influences. These cells or trees had the lower part of the trunk of each plunged in a dilatation of a channel of clear running fluid, which it was explained transuded from the blood. These each nerve cell was bathed, not in actual blood, but in a kind of filtered blood stream.

The doctor then went on to explain hot these cells became depressed or poisoned by any harmful substances which found their way into the circulation. The quality of the blood stream determined the working power of the cells which it fed, and which were actually bathed in it. That this was so was obvions when we considered the almost immediate effect of holding a handkerchief sprinkled with chloroform over the face. In a moment the cell was bathed in a stream of poison. The effect of alcohol was slower but analogout. It was not so obvious that lack of exercise and constipation acted in the same way, but it was so. Alcohol was produced outside the body by the action of minute organisation on sugar, and organisms acting on substances delayed in the alimentary canal were capable of producing analogous persons, which were absorbed into the blood stream. But there was a more important source of poisoning than this when vital process became inactive or impaired. Every living cell produced waste substance which had to be got rid of and if the process of elimination was impeded, depressed vitality or actual poisoning resulted. Is fermentation the yeast plant produced alcohol, which stopped its growth if not removed moved, and sort was with the cells of our body. It was especially necessary that the body of a growing child should be kept full activity and the best of health, beats the rapid changes going on entail the production of poisons which not only depress function, but tend to arrest growth. As the French author of a recent book on that auto-intoxication of pregnant women said the healthy organism "est une fabrique de-

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Fig. II

Fig. II

Diagram of a Minute Area of the Highest Portion of the Human Brain, highly magnified.—(Adapted and modified from Sir Batty Tuke's "Insanity of Over-exertion of the Brain.")

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poisons"—a veritable poison factory—the functioning of the organism being absolutely dependent on the integrity of the excretory glands, whose duty it is to eliminate noxious substance. Otherwise both mother and child suffered. Now, when there was poison in the blood the bruin cells, being the most delicate and responsive, were the first to suffer, and when they were affected the whole organism became secondarily involved to a greater or leaser extent, because the presided over and directed, as it were, function and nutrition of every organ and tissue to the very nails and finger-tips.

Fig. III.—Scheme of the highest region of Human Brain, showing the direction of flow of Nerve Currents from Fibres to Cells, and from Cell to Cell. (After Cajal.)

Fig. III.—Scheme of the highest region of Human Brain, showing the direction of flow of Nerve Currents from Fibres to Cells, and from Cell to Cell. (After Cajal.)

Here the lecturer used a simile that [unclear: in] apt enough, thus : If the general in [unclear: com] mand of a field force is incapacitated [unclear: a] killed, and there is no other general [unclear: t] take his place, the direction of [unclear: man] will fall on subordinate shoulders that [unclear: mg] not be fit to bear the strain, and so the process may go on to ultimate chat, I with the human being. The highest [unclear: h] cells control the organism, and they [unclear: al] can fulfil their proper functions. When [unclear: p] son dulls them the man becomes like the leaderless army, he becomes dominated three lower centres, and various functions tend to either run riot or sink under a strain the they were never meant to bear. [unclear: Thee] brain itself is composed of what the [unclear: phy] logest calls noble and ignoble tissue. The noble tissue is the effective part, and the ignoble tissne is mostly packing. In a [unclear: gr] many of the cases that go to Dr [unclear: Ka] tare at Seacliff there is an increase of [unclear: ex] ignoble at the excuse of the noble.

Development of Nerve Cells

A neuroblast, as its name indicates, is [unclear: us] embryo nerve cell. The primitive [unclear: brai] cells are neuroblasts, and Dr King [unclear: show] pictures illustrative of sprouting—a process verv much like the growth of a plant [unclear: a] appearance. A peculiarly interesting fact from the evolutionist's point of view [unclear: w] explained—viz., that every animal tends [unclear: to] reproduce in itself the different [unclear: stags] through which its ancestors have evolved. This is clearly seen in the neuroblast pictures. The nerve growth in a man, [unclear: for] instance, is almost precisely on the [unclear: same] lines as the nerve growth in a rat up [unclear: to a] certain point; but the man grows [unclear: further] and sprouts more branches than the [unclear: rat] And the principle holds good right through. For sake of comparison, the lecturer [unclear: p] in sequence upon the screen a photograph of the highest brain cells of a [unclear: amphi] reptile, mammal, and man, showing [unclear: the] progressive growth of ramifications. After explaining the delicacy of these cells, [unclear: and] the need of carefully nourishing and keeping pure the blood that feeds them, [unclear: Dr] King said that nobody who [unclear: understood] these matters would allow people to be [unclear: pa] in rooms like some of our sehoolrooms, where there was no pretence of [unclear: systematics] ventilation. We had no right to [unclear: comp] or even to allow boys and girls to sit and do mental work in the cold for long hours with defective furnishings, in places [unclear: when]

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Fig. IV.

Fig. IV.

Schemes A to D represent the highest Brain Cells in the Lower Animals and in Man. (Adapted from ajal and Azoulay.)

The lower series, below and left-viz., Cells a to e—show the early stages of development of any individual Higher Nerve Cell in Man, proceeding from right to left. By further growth Cell e ultimately develops into Cell D.

it was absolutely improper for them to do any sort of work at all. In mere commercial matters people were more careful than that. An intelligent publican had been known to ventilate his bar parlor, because he.. knew that his clients would get incapable quicker on carbonic acid and alcohol than on alcohol alone. Therefore he ventilated, so that, they might hold out longer, and buy more champagne or whisky. Dr King said he found it very difficult to keep within bounds on this subject. It seemed to him that he was not expected to have any feeling. It was painful to be blessed (or" cursed with the power to see the stupidity of these things—cursed with the necessity to think, and yet to feel almost impotent to alter what could se easily be set right.

Degeneration of Brain Cells.

The next picture was one illustrating the early stages of the degeneration of brain cells, in 'General Paralysis of the In-sane.' and it was explained that pari passu with this process the vitality of the whole organism goes down, so that in a few years the individual is wiped out. This, says Dr King, is essentially a disease of overexertion—though there were other factors—found mostly in people that work loo n uch and think too much and sometimes drink too much. But these people are essentially above the average of intelligence. Lord Randolph Churchill was a striking example page 62 Dr King emphasised the bewildering delicacy and complexity of the brain cells, and said that the wonder was not that they broke down, but that they stood the cessive strain that was so often put upon them.


Here came in the question of fatigue, a matter about which the lecturer said he should not say much, seeing that it had been dealt with the previous night by Dr Malcolm. However, he explained certain lantern pictures and photo micrographs in point. One represented a cell from the spinal cord of a cat before exertion, another a similar cell after exertion. The comparison was striking. After the exertion an entire change in the cell was noticeable—it was very much shrunken, and its whole appearance was altered. Most striking of all were two pictures of a nerve cell from the ganglia of a honey bee. When the bee went out to work in the morning his cell had a large full nucleus; when he came home at night the nucleus was shrunk and the cell altered. The next picture was rather dreadful; it was the negative (for fear of recognition Dr King did not show the positive) of a photograph of an insane girl of fourteen who had been sent to Sea-cliff. Insanity, Dr King says, should scarcely develop before the age of twenty-one. Why did it occur in this case? The inciting cause was teeth; teachers should look to teeth—they ought to be inspected. This girl had a double set of teeth, like a shark, and the extraction of one or two of these at the proper time would have saved her infinite pain and trouble from inflamed gums and inability to masticate her food. Digestion became impaired, and poisoning of the brain cells followed. More insanity came from the alimentary canal than from any other source. As for treatment in such casts, give the patients plenty of open air, and get them tired, so that sleep might occur. That was better than all the drugs in the world. When poison was generated in the system, it was clear that the fluid that bathes every nerve cell must poison the very sources of thought and action. All that was best in man suffered first because the cells that were most highly specialised had the least nutritive and resistive faculty. Thus the highest brain cells go under to alcohol or chloroform long before the other cells become paralysed.

Controlling Hierarchy.

The central nervous system, says Dr King, is like a hierarchy. When the more exalted cells are paralysed the lower ones tend to run riot and have a good time. Under the influence of whisky a man becomes a "jolly good fellow"; he discloses his friend's secrets, and he tells you stories he would not have thought of telling under other circumstances, and he buys things he does not want at auction sales. His highest cells are poisoned first; the best in him is paralysed. This sort of thing certainly gives a friendlier and more sociable feeling, and that, in Dr King's view, is the best side of alcohol. But control in the highest function of the brain, and want of control is the leading feature of insanity Control is most needed by the boy from twelve to eighteen, and to have that control he must be kept in good form with a cold bath in the morning to stimulate him, plenty of open-air exercise, good food, good air, and very little evening work—(The teachers applauded this last remark with collective spontaneity.) In one college in New Zealand, where. Dr King said, probably more exercise is given than in any other school in the colony, it was decided to make daily outdoor exercises and games compulsory for all pupils, and to keep records. Everyone went to bed at nine o'clock. The proved result was that the boys had increased in average height one inch, in average weight nearly 3lb, though they took more exercise and less "promiscuous tuck." Finally, they had added an inch to their average chest capacity, and considering that the mean chest expansion was about 3½in, this was very satisfactory for the race.


Dr King here came to one of the mod interesting parts of his lecture—viz., the explanation of the fact that manual training of an individual (particularly a young individual) actually affects the structural formation of the cells of his spinal cord. The crux of the whole thing is memory, Memory means to the physiologist some thing more than the power to consciously recall something. Professor Ribot says: "La memoire est par essence, un fait biologique, par accident, un fait psycholo gique." Though the nower of conscious recall is the highest expression of memory it is not the essential feature. The bask of all memory is an actual physical or dynamic change registered in nerve cells. There was basic memory long before the dawn of consciousness—the memory the "organised residuum," left in cells which enables them to perform functions better with each successive repetition. The true type of organic memory must be sought at Ribot says, in secondary automatic actions, as opposed to primary or innate automatic acts. These secondary automatic actions, page 63 or acquired movements, are the very groundwork of our daily life. In the most universal form they are seen in walking, balancing, etc., and in more complex forms in groups of movements, such as are acquired in the learning of all manual trades and games of skill. This is the physiological basis and raison d'etre of technical education. If boyhood is a good time for educating and developing the psychic cells and the mind, it is certainly the best time for training and developing the lower brain cells and the cells of the spinal cord. One could scarcely imagine any greater folly than the common practice of devnoting all attention to the master, and leaving his servants to shift for themselves.

A graphic chart from the report of the Mosely Commission on Education was shown, illustrating the increased wage-earning power of the boys who attended technical schools in America as compared with those who did not—the one class stopping at £2 10s per week, and the other class rising to £4 10s per week.

Training Spinal Cord Cells.

With the help of an assistant the lecturer made plain the state of a man who is an inmate of Sea-cliff As the result, of a severe fright coming at the end of a period of heavy drink-fag the cells of this man's brain lost the power of registering any new memories that would last for more than ten minutes, although he retains his old memory of things that happened and were registered before the change in his brain took place. Though be has been in close association with Dr king for eighteen years, this man never bows him and never learns anything, because he has no proper physical basis for memory. But he has reason, and uses it. If he is asked the hour of day or the time of year he looks about him and reasons it at before he answers. In the latter case he would probably look out of the window and say. "Well," friend, I think it'll be spring." Ask him why he thinks so, and he will say: "Well,'I see the bulbs in flower," or something of that sort. Now comes the part, of the story that sounds like miracle-working when you hear it first. Dr King has taught a new memory to this man's spinal cord. He started by handing the blighted man a pair of Indian clubs. "Do you know what those are?" "No, friend, I don't." "Never seen them before, "No."—" But surely you know what they are" "Well, they're pieces of wood, friend." And so it went on. How could such a man, who had no power of recollecting, be taught anything? The doctor concluded that it was the highest brain cells alone that had seriously suffered, and that the more primitive and resistive lower brain and spinal cord cells might be more or less sound. Then he began to have his patient instructed in the art of club-swinging. The patient tried to follow the movements of his instructor, but at first was as clumsy and awkward as any middle-aged man would be on trying to perform entirely new motions. However, day by day and week by week he improved, though he never acquired any knowledge of what the clubs were or what they were for. Without his instructor to give the spinal cord the cue he was as powerless to conceive what the clubs were for or to use them as when they were first brought under his notice. Yet at the end of a month this man, when started by the example before him, could swing his clubs quite well—the servant was trained, but not the master. This meant that an actual change had been wrought in the cells of the lower brain and spinal cord, though the man never realised himself anything regarding his new accomplishment. The man had got a kind of technical education in spite of himself. Here, indeed, was a bright light on a most important matter.

Real Teaching.

Dr King next said emphatically that boys and girls at school should not be taught anything that was entirely useless and irksome. What right had we, he asked, to scribble inconsequent, fugitive jottings on these cells of the mind for mere examination purposes, or to brand them permanently with anything that is not worth retaining, or that can be of no further use or interest in after life? What right had we to waste and strain the nervous system with tables, rules, and problems of arithmetic or mathematics beyond all probable future requirements, or to harass children with distracting grammatical analysis before the mind is fit to grasp its meaning and possible value? Of course we must have scaffolding knowledge, but the proper permanent rallying points of memory ought to be built and tied into the cell groups with such interesting and important associative bonds as would make them parts of the being, readily available at all times as centres for the further extension of knowledge, thought, and imagination. Acquirements of this kind had no need of any artificial supports. To know a thing truly involves the remembering of it, no special effort of memorising being needed. If interest be aroused and page 64 knowledge be properly conveyed to a normal healthy mind which had not been overtaxed, the memory must remain—such knowledge was woven into the very physical structure, and its possessor could not get away from it, any more than he could get away from the power of swimming if he had properly learnt the art : in other words, if his nervous system had acquired the organic memory of how to swim. True knowledge is as different from mere verbal memorising as anything that can possibly be imagined.

An Inspired Teacher.

The lecturer next explained by way of illustration how long ago. As a student he had been set to learn what was called "mechanics" for examination purposes. The text book was the dullest imaginable. Students who voluntarily chose this subject did so because the memorising of certain definitions, formulae, etc., printed in italics, sufficed to satisfy the examiners. Speaking for himself, he must confess that such was his own attitude, until by chance he fell in with a singularly brilliant and enthusiastic young teacher', who in two short hours made the subject "live" for him. This man denounced the book as the degradation of a great theme. It was a bare skeleton, without flesh and blood. It was one thing to learn to repeat unthinkingly that the natural state of a body was "a state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line." etc., and it was quite another thing to find that definition suddenly made a central focus of intense and glowing thought embracing the universe. The teacher strode up and down, now seizing the poker, which he used as a cricket bat. So as to make you see the motion of the ball and feel the different forces that impelled it and brought it to a standstill. Next he had you in imagination on the loch among the curlers. It was mid-winter, and with voice and gesture you were made to feel the cold and see "and hear the curling-stones and the players in their excitement brushing aside every particle of loose ice that could add to the friction. The man's enthusiasm was contagious. Every available sense that could aid in producing a vivid and lasting impression on the brain centres was called into action. Imagination was aroused. It was like a general concentrating his forces. You saw and heard and felt the inevitable convergence on one point—viz., that motion rather than rest would seem to be the natural 6tate of a body. But he did not stop with the earth; he swept on to the stars, making the whole universe a part of a lesson which carried him away. One learned much of astronomy as a mere side issue, and it did not stop even there. A question [unclear: as] to the parts of a stone being relatively [unclear: a] rest brought out the speculations of physicists and chemists as to molecular and [unclear: atomic] motion. Speaking for himself, the doctor said he felt eternally grateful to the man who had thus lighted up the threshold of science and taught him to know these things once for all—to feel and see them—and who had made it unnecessary to learn definitions which he could henceforth evolve for himself. Mental training of this kind was a keen stimulus, and would tend to promote growth and extension of the porcesses of cells as much as dry barren creaming would depress it. Concentration was the basis of all good teaching, and we could never have proper concentration so long as pupils were made to keep too many subjects going at once. Nothing was worng for the brain than constantly chopping and changing from one subject to another. It would be much better to teach fewer subjects at a time, and get through with them then others could be taken up. It would be much better not to attempt the teaching of so many subjects during each term. If observation concentration, reflect, thought, and imagination were encouraged and cultivated, knowledge once would be more or less permanently available, and its possessor would have something to build on in after life. As it teachers were afraid to abandon a subject and trust the mind to retain essentails. Working under the present system were quite right in this, because nothing hastily and superficially crammed for examination purposes can be retained. He would say emphatically: Teach fewer subjects at once, give space and time and rest for teaching thoroughly and interestingly what was attempted, and aim at quality rather than quantity.

Material Resources and National Defence.

The lecturer next proceeded to demonstrate the indirect creative powers of the teacher in influencing the development of the material resource of a country, and in building national defence. Stress was laid the paramount necessity for recreating in the sense of re-creation or rebuilding of the individual—a process which, it was pointed out, need not be confined is games, but might also take the form practical training in healthy local outdoor industrial occupations, volunteer drill, etc. A sufficiency of open-air exercise school be a compulsory part of the school curriculum and, in the lecturer's opinion, [unclear: at] page 65 least two afternoons a week should be spent in this way, besides ensuring a daily minimum of outing. (Photographs illustrative of practical rural instruction in Japan were shown, and the lecturer lamented the absence of any extensive system of this sort in New Zealand.) It teemed to be thought, he said, that farming was a rather inferior kind of occupation, and the tendency of the rising generation was to seek clerkships or other city billets. No doubt, country life could be very humdrum if the farmer did not rise above being a mere unthinking drudge, but to the man who used his brains, and set to work to make the best of his land, his crops, and his animals, and who took a keen interest in his surroundings, farming was an ideal life. It as, of course, the healthiest for the individual and the best for the race. But arming was more than a simple occupation—it was one of the finest professions in the world, and with the growth of modern knowledge there was scope on the farm for every bit of thought and intellect that a man liked to put into it.

Nature Study.

With the idea of nature-study, the doctor explained that he is cordially in agreement, but teachers complain that under existing conditions they can find no time to deal with such matters, except in the lost cursory and superficial way. When one considered the requirements of the Syllabus, as practically interpreted by teachers and examiners, one was impressed with the vital necessity of taking off a large portion of the burthens now imposed on school children. The first need was to lessen the load, and until provision was made for that be felt it would be wrong to ask the children to devote more thought to nature-study or to any other school work. It appeared to him that half of what we taught was useless or unessential, and he felt that we could well dispense, for instance, with the learning of such things as troy weight and practice, and the excess of conundrum arithmetic and fractions. He was glad to see that the central authority was now inclined to be less exacting in the matter of formal analysis of sentences in grammar, and he was surprised to find local examiners upholding this as a requirement for children. He sympathisd with Professor Miall, who wrote: "Some text-books which treat of English grammar and analysis of sentences make me bless my own stupid old school, which never mentioned these things at all! Mastery of English, I would re-mark, does not come by grammar and analysis, but by observation and practice." Opposite this paragraph a very able teacher whom they all knew had written "Hear, hear!" It was useless to talk of teaching the preliminaries of rural education in any primary schools so long as we had an over-loaded Syllabus, or while excessive demands were made by examiners. He said this in spite of the strongest conviction upon his own part that rural education was a matter of fundamental importance to the country. As illustrating the intense interest and value of scientific thought and precision directed to agriculture, Dr King showed the results of planting a series of experimental plots with potatoes last season. By using good seed properly kept, and by employing the most suitable artificial manures, etc., it was shown that plots had yielded at the rate of 20 tons to the acre in the midst of farmers' crops which yielded only four tons, the main difference being due to the seed. It was pointed out that at present prices a thirty-acre crop yielding twenty tons per acre would realise nearly £5,000, whereas a four-ton crop, being largely pig potatoes, would leave little profit.

Growth of Potatoes.

An investigation into the respective effects of potash phosphates and nitrogenous salts was quite as interesting and significant in its results. A lantern slide was shown depicting the crops obtained with these chemical manures near Paris, the conclusion formed there being that potash was the most essential manure for potatoes. With us, or the contrary, a series of plots planted at Oamaru, Waikouaiti, Puketeraki, Seacliff, Waitati, Wakari, and Southland showed potash to be practically unnecessary as a potato manure in those localities. On the other hand, phosphates proved of great value, and in some localities more than doubled the crop. At Waitati ground that without manure yielded only 3 tons of poor potatoes to the acre gave 9 tons of good quality with a dressing of artificial manures costing about £2 10s per acre. At Waitati and Wakari doubling the dressing of potash actually diminished the crop; yet sulphate of potash costs £15 per ton, and superphosphates only £5 per ton. Our soil in the districts named contained enough potash and was short in phosphates. However, potash should rarely be entirely omitted when making up a compound manure. In the localities named it could be reduced to a minimum, so far as the farms tested were concerned, whereas, in some other localities, potash would page 66 prove to be the main desideratum. Such facts were of cardinal importance for the farmer and the country, and showed the absurdity of imagining that chemical mixtures labelled "potato manure" or "turnip manure" could be satisfactorily compounded without reference to the special local ingredients of the soil. By planting only a gross of potatoes in an experimental plot the children of any country school could discover for themselves in a single season something of real value to their district. The experience would be as important to them in training their powers of observation and stimulating interest, and in giving them faith in the practical value of scientific precision, and in developing their reasoning faculties, as it would be valuable to their parents from a direct pecuniary point of view. Add to these advantages the fact that such knowledge comes by way of recreation, and it may seem that we could afford to exchange it for some superfluities at present required for examinations. The boy whose future lay in town would gain enough from such pursuits to make the matter worth his while, and the benefit to the future farmer and to the country would be inestimable.*


Extract from Dr King's Pamphlet on "the Feeding of Plants and Animals

Some soils lack little but potash. In such cases why should we incur great expense in providing full proportions of nitrogen and phosphates? Usually all three constituents are beneficial, but they need to be supplied in proportions varying widely according to the soil. The problem of economic manuring can be solved in one way only, and it can be approximately solved very simply. When drilling a paddock for potatoes, mark out a small, even-looking patch for testing.) Say the rows are thirty-one inches apart : select ten drills and put pegs fifteen feet apart in each drill. Each short row between the pegs will then represent 1-11 20th. Of an acre, and will serve for ten potatoes placed eighteen inches apart A quarter of a pound of manure to fifteen feet is, them, equivalent to 2½ cwt per acre. Treat the patch as follows:—

No. of Row. Manure. Weight in ozs. Equivalent to cwt. per Acre. Cost per Acre.


Similar arguments were used in favor of devoting, say, an afternoon a week in strictly fishing districts to outdoor seaside pursuits, as was done in France. As showing the national importance of fishing, it was pointed out that in Japan the fishing population numbered three millions; that the fish caught around the British [unclear: Islos] were worth ten millions starling a year at 2d per lb; while the yield of the North Sea—an area about the size of France-was estimated at twenty-five millions sterling. It was shown by diagram how enormously more important fishing should be to New Zealand than to France, seeing that we have nearly three times the total coast line, and that whereas New Zealand has 400 miles of coast for every 10,000 square miles of page 67 land France has only 75 miles of coast to the same area. It was mentioned to at the asylum fishing boat at Puketeraki had caught as much as 100,0001b weight of fish in a single year, worth, say, £800, and equal to the yield in flesh of a farm of, any 1,000-acres. It was pointed but that this harvest was inexhaustible, and could be much more fully gathered in if fishing were systematically pursued with a fuller knowledge of apparatus and methods and proper observation of fish and their habits. As an illustration it was pointed out that the introduction of improved crayfish pots last year had greatly increased the catch at Puketeraki. The fishing instruction in France embraces learning to swim, learning all about a boat and how to sail and pull it, the use of the compass, taking bearings, the making of all kinds of nets, etc., and it was pointed out that at most of our fishing ports instruction in these

Fig. V.

Fig. V.

Graphic chart showing approximately the proportions of coastline to land in New Zealand, France, and New South Wales respectively. The small squares, 100 miles a side, each represent 10,000 square miles of territory. New Zealand is represented to the left as a country 1,000 miles long by 100 broad. The length of coastline is practically doubled by indentations, as represented by the ten-square diagram. The small squares above France and New South Wales show for those countries the average extent of coastline for 10,000 square miles of territory viz.—75 and 25 miles respectively, compared with 400 miles of coast for the same area in the case of New Zealand.

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matters could be undertaken by old men whose knowledge would otherwise die with them. The doctor said that if he had six sons at a seaside school, and each one was destined for a profession, he would wish them first of all to have their senses and powers trained in these practical local matters. Our modern tendency was to centre all attention on books, and to leave out of account the development of the being in relation to his surroundings, forgetting that any square mile of coast was an epitome of the whole world.*

In concluding, the lecturer regretted very much that he had not had the opportunity of evoking from the practical teachers present their views on the fundamental issues that had been brought into prominence during the course of the present controversy on Education. In a matter of this kind, in which the profession felt almost as much interest as the teaching profession itself it would be a great advantage if members of the two professions could meet and confer from time to time with a view to broadening their interest and knowledge mutual ground. Whatever benefit might result to teachers and doctors from intercourse, he was sure that a great boon would be conferred on the generation. As creative agents, the and responsibility of teachers could scarcely be overstated. School- could directly exercise more influence over the destiny of the race than the members of any other profession. This fact made it imperative that we should leave no stone unturned that would the efficiency and status of teachers, or that would improve the conditions system of education in our colony.

* The recent exhaustive report on Education, issued by the New South Wales Commissioners, emphasises the importance attached in France to fostering and developing agriculture and fishing by giving instruction in these directions in all suitable localities. With increased knowledge and improved methods skilled open-air industrial pursuits are made more attractive and lucrative, and the tendency of population to swarm into towns is checked. The following is an extract from the report of the Commissioners :—"It may be said of the French people that they endeavor to adapt their teaching to the particular needs of the community. Nature study with them follows the natural surroundings and natural phenomena. Lessons on the life of a sailor and a fisherman must be given in all the elementary primary schools on the coast Agriculture there, while not entirely abandoned, makes way for ideas regarding sea occupations. . . . Teachers have taken up the work with great enthusiasm. In twenty-one out of the maritime departments in which elemetary nautical teaching is given, the instruction seems to have already borne fruit." If this aspect of education is worth attention in France and New South Wales, it should be infinitely more so in an insular country like New Zealand, with its extensive indented coast-line, and inexhaustible harvest of the sea.