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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Local Contrasts

Local Contrasts.

There is at least one important college in New Zealand in which three after-noons a week are devoted to outdoor physical exercise, besides daily gymnastics morning or evening. At this school it is further required of every boy not specially excused that he shall take a minimum of one hour's active physical exercise every day, out of doors in all weathers, properly clad in flannels for the purpose. This applies to day boys as well as boarders. Further, a record of height, weight, chest measurements, and expansion and muscular development is taken several times a year, and such details are included in the term reports to parents. I am assured, on good authority, that the development, physique, and activity of the boys are obvicusly better than those of boys who attend schools where such enlightened practices do not obtain.

I assume that the following, which occurs in a letter which I have just received from an ex-pupil of the Dunedin Boys' High School, is substantially correct. If there are inaccuracies I shall be glad to receive any correction from the rector :—

In winter the chief sport that the boys go in for is football. Until recently only a small number of the boys played, but this season the masters are urging the fellows to play, and all are expected to play unless they make a good excuse. There are Rugby and Association teams, Rugby having the greater proportion. In summer cricket and tennis are played, and there is also a field club in connection with the school. It is not compulsory to join any of these clubs, and only the verykeen ones keep the different clubs going. Every boy gels one hour a week in the gymnasium and an hour and a half cadet drill. Football practises are held twice a week, which means two hours a week of fairly violent exercise.

Does this imply a reasonable recognition by the High School authorities of the rights of the body? The opportunity for a whole day's exercise on Saturdays is no compensation for neglect during the rest of the week. If fully availed of the spurt would be excessive. The tendency, how-ever, is the other way. The few may be-come athletes, but the many tend to degenerate into mere "banackcrs." I submit that it would be far better for the boys, and much fairer to the rest of the colony, if instead of raking in so many University scholarships, intended to be shared by the whole of New Zealand, the Dunedin High School were content with its fair proportion, and thus gave itself the chance to breathe easily and freely and spend enough time in open-air occupations and games.