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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Professor Park's View

Professor Park's View.

Professor Park, director of the Otago University School of Mines, made passing reference to our system of examinations in his this year's report on the year's work of that school. On being approached to see if he would care to elaborate on that comment, Professor Park readily agreed.

"I have seen," he began, "what Dr Truby King and others have said about the evil of our present system of competitive examinations. Yes, there can be no doubt that the stress due to our educational system is responsible for some mental strain, but how much I cannot say. The evil begins in the upper Standards in the primary school, and is probably well developed before the pupil reaches the University. Only two cases of mental strain have come under my own observation. Such cases would naturally be eliminated before they reached the Mining Faculty, which deals chiefly with applied science. No, I have no fault to find with the present system of teaching. What I object to is the eternal grind to meet the demands of written examinations. Written examinations, so far as our engineering work is concerned, merely tend to foster a system of cram, which in professional work could only result in inefficiency."

In your annual report of the Mining School you refer to the German system of examination. Would you mind detailing the general scope of this system?

"In the mining academies and colleges of applied science in Germany written examinations have been replaced by a system of oral examination and written theses. Students attend the college lectures, as with us. At the end of each year of their academic course each student is subjected to an oral examination, and is required to write a thesis on the subject of instruction. The writing of the thesis or dissertation forms the most important part of the examination. Reasonable time is allowed, and every facility in the way of reference is placed at the disposal of the candidate in the preparation of his thesis.