Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1914. EDUCATION CONFERENCE.
Quite unostentatiously, and behind closed doors so far as the Press and public are concerned, there met in . Wellington, on Thursday, one of the most important conferences that has been held in New Zealand for some years. This was the gathering- of chief inspectors of schools, and their primary object was to discuss the question of inaugurating a more comprehensive scheme of classifying the teachers of public schools, due attention being paid to the relationship of one educa tional district to another! Education" Boards in the various- districts will at present give a position to a teacher graded in their own respective districts, -; whose merits they know, in preference to an outside teacher; and there is at present no method by which they. can adequately weigh the qualifications.'.. of. each. Under present conditions, the only chance a teacher has of entering another district is to accept a lower-salaried position than the one he is leaving, and work his
way up again. This comes especially hard upon teachers in the smaller * districts, where none of the schools are of the first grade, and consequently they cannot obtain a first-class school without moving into another district. Hence it is necessary that a Dominion scheme for the grading of teachers shall be fixed and maintained. This is all the more desirable from the point of view of the scholars, who are often unfairly handicapped in their studies' by the constant change, of teachers .' Another matter that was dealt with by the conference is sadly overdue for consideration and reform. This is the absolute necessity for a uniformity of interpretation in the regulations for the inspection of schools, and particularly in respect to the provision for granting certificates of proficiency. To mention concrete examples of the lack of any pretence of uniformity, cases have been known where children ' who have passed into"Standard VI: in a Marlborough school have been graded low in Standard IV. 'oii being transferred to a school in the 1 Auckland Province; Pupils subjected to such vicissitudes cannot be .blamed for concluding that a system under which these anomalies are possible has something radically, wrong with'it. The Dominion is spending £1,393,000 per annum on-e'ducation, and it cannot be said that the best value | is being got for the expenditure. There was not on the order paper of the conference any reference to the subject of isalaries^—presumably because of the Minister's assurance that this matter will-re-, I ceive further consideration next session—but even with the promised increases the salaries will not be sufficient to attract and to hold highly-qualified men to the teaching profession. Interesting! references to the importance of the profession are contained in an article in a recent issue of the London "Daily Telegraph," the writer contending that the finest] qualification required is that of character. "To perform a work of this kind," he continues, "the nation needs the highest type of j men and women, but the material i rewards are few: not many can' hope to win high distinction ixvi the world or great wealth. But;
there is a fuller aspect of this work which is calculated to appeal with special force to all who believe in the highest destiny of mankind, who realise the Divine element in human nature, and the dignity of discipleship, and to choose such a calling is not to, condemn oneself to a life of drudgery or of asceticism, but to dedicate life to the service of Huimanity. Such a life is essentially one of example rather than of precept." It would have been of the greatest interest to have had full reports of the inspectors' views on •the vital points in ' connection with the education system. It is a monument to' its defects to find such a divergence of opinion as to its operation amongst the men who Lave the final word in its administration, and beneficial results might have been expected from a full and open discussion.