The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1917
In the complicated civilization of our day, no same man will admit that children can start equipped for life at the age of 14. Most people realize, that no matter how we crowd the primary school syllabus an education to meet all the demands of this age can not be compressed into the short space of nine years.
However, as the law now stands, school attendances is not required after the age of 14, and in spite of our free places at secondary schools, the majority of children are given very little training after that age. As a result of these conditions, we are sending out the majority of our children page 43 to form a public opinion based, in many instances, on ignorance and prejudice. Taking a far sighted view of this situation, one wonders, what will be the ultimate fate of the democratic country that refuses to train its citizens to use intelligently the great powers entrusted to them. For the sake then not only of commercial prosperity (and that is important) but of national safety, more important still, one would think that the extension of compulsory education would be the first charge upon our legislators. In fact there is only one argument against it and that is it will cost money.
The great purpose of continuation classes is, to educate the people who need education most. Instead of our poorer children being left to their own devices at the age of 14, these classes if properly managed will draw them in, and train them in efficient workmanship, and good citizenship. But alas at present, these responsibilities are shirked, on the grounds of coast. Money cannot be spent in this way yet in spite of the complaints about our primary schools from those who expect too much from them, in spite of the need for increased industrial efficiency, in spite of all this, we must needs hesitate and deliberate, before we can spend money on education. Why, as far as Wellington is concerned, we cannot afford a good Technical College building just now. Judged by their actions or rather inaction this is what the "powers that be" seem to think.
Contrast with this attitude the policy in many U.S.A. communities. There, far-sighted employers have established of their own initiative, continuation classes for their employees, where training for vocations and training for citizenship are given.
Vocational training rightly holds an impregnable position in the community, but, realizing that it is not the panacea for all educational ills, these employers have introduced in conjunction with it courses in various subjects, with a view to moulding good citizens. Their experience of the venture is, that it is a decided success from the point of view both of employer and of employee.
It is possible to realize that this scheme is only a small instalment of "more to follow,"—that the continuation classes will usher in a day when education will be conducted in a more scientific and leisurely fashion.page 44
Is it a vain dream to look for a day when more facilities for education will be provided for young and old, and when more people will be interested in some educational pursuit. It is Utopian and thoroughly impracticable to look forward to a time when good libraries, good laboratories, good picture galleries, are as numerous, as picture shows, public house and churches now are. It is a foolish thing to expect a university to be the centre of the intellectual life of a community, a place to which people of all ages and stages, will resort if they want mental refreshment ? Will the day ever dawn, when men and women "out in the world," will be able to take a university course along the lines of their special interest ? Are all these ideas vain and foolish creatures of the imagination, and if they are not, have the students of this College any power in deciding whether these possibilities are "to be or not to be?"
W. E. C.