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HEADMASTERS' PROTEST., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 64, 16 March 1909
SCHOOL CHILDREN FOR DISPLAY.
The "Wellington Headmasters' Association on Saturday adopted the report of I a special committee on the use of school . children for display purposes. The re- ! port calls attention to a very curious anomaly with respect to duties thrust upon teachers. When any other class of the community undertakes public duties for the benefit of their fellow citizens, they do so as volunteers, pure and simple. No one would dream of insisting that these outside enthusiasts should be compelled to do anything in their leisure time for the delectation of the general public. Your enthusiastic organisers and entertainers would stand aghast were public bodies to hint at compulsion. The public likewise would be shocked. How curious it is that in this twentieth century there should be one class expected, and in some cases required, to undertake outside duties without a shadow of consultation. That it should be so is a reproach to the public bodies which require tbe performance of these outside duties: and is a grave reflection upon the members of that' class whose apathy permits of such demands being made upon them. DEMONSTRATION. Directly a public body resolves to hold a demonstration, its members look round and find volunteers who will undertake certain portions of the work:' but teachers are not treated as volunteers, they are directed to undertake these extraneous duties. Forthwith the teachers are appointed the real executive committee, and presently find themselves engaged in the performance of extraneous duties of an arduous character and sometimes of a repugnant description. A whole city desires to spend an especially happy day, a day that will be remembered until something bigger and noisier is organised; and again without consultation it is decided that the teachers shall organise the children—the presence of the children will attract the parents and their relations—and then something will result that the photographer can immortalise in an illustrated paper. A lower level is, of course, reached when such demonstrations, the organisation of which has been thrust upon public school teachers, are made for the purpose of gratifying the personal ambition of some local public man. or, it may be, to assist in the promotion of some public servant. _ Are we not (asks the committee) humiliated in confessing that we meekly assisted in such celebrations. CADETS AND THEIR USES. Bound up with this matter of school displays is the further question of the uses to which cadets and their officers are put. As originally established, the intention was excellent —little display, the. very mini-mum of uniform and military appendages, efficient drill, practical training in the use of a rifle: these were the admirable aims. But there has been a decline: there have been many lapses: the display element has grown beyond control; has overshadowed the other essential aims. What is now magnified is the picture the little boys make, and 1 hence they and their teachers are dragged at the heels of the volunteers on high days and holidays. And how do the teacher-officers like it? They are not invited to have an opinion in the matter. Certain highlyplaced officers realise that the cadets make a picturesque and attractive element in a holiday crowd, and therefore they are called out just as if they formed a portion of the defence forces of the Dominion, when these are paraded for spectacular display. Certain it is that cadets should never be called out to march in procession, to line the streets, to do duty quite alien to the intention of the organisation. The question of the cadets, their organisation, and the uses to which they are put is so important that it is to be hoped this association will, at an early date, deal with it in a separate report. WHEN SCHOOLS SHOULD TURN OUT. For many years, the committee -places on record, there has been the best possible relationship existing between the Wellington Education Board and its Staff of teachers. In fact, both north and south the local board has had more than a local reputation for fair and considerate treatment of its teachers. We hope, therefore, for the help and sympathy of the board in putting the matter of public display on a satisfactory footing. The question might be asked whether the schools should ever turn out; the only, possible answer is that each case would have to be considered on its meTits. Certainly, the arrival or departure of a Governor; the visit of some distinguished visitor from overseas; the anniversary of the change of name from colony to Dominion; these cannot be deemed of sufficient national importance to warrant a display. The case would be different were some great event tc take place which stirred the enthusiasm of us all, something that deeply touched the life of the people; and on such an occasion we feel confident that teachers would be the first to volunteer to assist. "BARBAROUS." One aspect of these parades we consider particularly barbarous. It is bad enough that men should take charge of pupils and attempt to manage them in the public tSoroughfarca; but a very much lower level is reached when women are compelled to marshal children in the public streets. Nothing can be said in support of such a proceeding, and it has continued simply through sheer want of thought. REXDO-vIMENDATIONS. The committee recommends: — 1. That public bodies, the Government, the Education Board, the entertaining committees on public occasions, will cease making demands as a mere matter of course on teachers and pupils of the public schools. 2. That should teachers at any time be asked to help they must insist on previous consultation; and it must be clearly understood that, as citizens, they are free to give, or to withhold, their assistance according as the occasion commends itself to them or not.
3. That no woman will at any time be expected to undertake, by way of spectacular display, school duties outside the school grounds.
HEADMASTERS' PROTEST., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 64, 16 March 1909
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