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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Teacher and Parents

Teacher and Parents.

I am, of course, aware that under existing conditions teachers could not find time to give the necessary attention to the health and "fitness" of their pupils, and that the public would probably resent interference with what they are only too apt to regard as the "rights" of their boys and girls to be overloaded with school work. This lack of knowledge on the part of parents—this mistaking of one of the greatest "wrongs" that could be inflicted on their offspring for "children's rights"—is a matter not to be pandered to, but to be explained and corrected. Our teachers, and the speakers chosen to pronounce eulogies on schools and prize-winners at annual "breaking-up" functions, tend to convey to the public an entirely false estimate of the proper ideals, aims, and purposes of education. The only sense in which I can see that the general public are greatly to blame in this matter is that they take examination percentages too seriously, and show almost culpable credulity in accepting mere conventional compliments and felicitations as the expression of well-grounded opinions. They, not unnaturally come to the conclusion that our much belauded education system is all right, whereas it would be nearer the truth to say that it is all wrong! At this one point, and at this point only, I find myself at issue with Dr Marshall: "Dr Marshall lays all the blame of the 'cram' system on the shoulders of the public; they insist on results—scholarships, matriculation, and so on—and the teachers must play to the public." Why should any teacher condescend to "play to the public," and do what he, an expert endowed with special knowledge, admits to be wrong, simply because other people sincerely though mistakenly believe it to be right? The public do not need to be "played to." One call hardly imagine that they really want to be deceived and fooled. I rather think that page 36 what they do want is to be simply and sincerely told the truth as to what, in the light of modem knowledge, may be regarded broadly as the best form and process of education. When parents are satisfied that properly qualified teachers are doing their best under a good and rational system, earnestly directed towards making the most of every member of the rising generation—physically, mentally, and morally—once they are satisfied of this, there will be no need for anxiety as to interference from without.