PUBLIC SCHOOL EXAMINATIONS.
A large number of parents in Auckland district are very materially interested in the results, of our annual public school examinations; and it is generally known that a great amount of dissatisfaction was caused hereby the failure of an exceptionally large number of children to pass the last Certificate of Proficiency test hy which -pupils qualify for free places in our secondary schools. Generally speaking, we are not much inclined to attach importance to the complaints of unsuccessful candidates after any kind of examination. In the great Majority of cases those who fail do so for the best of all reasons that they are not good enough to pass. But we admit that there may be exceptional cases, and when Eeveral hundred children who might reasonably be assumed to have some hope of passing such a test fail with unprecsdented unanimity, it seems that there may be some reasonable ground for the dissatisfaction to which we have-referred. The whole matter will shortly be brought under the notice of the Education Board, but in the meantime we may draw attentlon to one or two features of this examination in question that appear to us to demand the careful notice of our educational experts. Everybody who has had anything to do with children knows tlrot their mind* are easily thrown out of gear, so to speak, and tliat they cannot do themselves justice, even in the matter of personal conduct, jn unaccustomed surroundings. As regards this much-dis-cussed test, we find that many of the children wore drafted from their own schools to a central school for examination purpoees, and thr.t they were all put through a large number of tests in rapid succession in one day. A glance at the examination time-table is enough to explain the situation. From 0.30 to 10.-10 the children were examined in Arithmetic, 10.40 to 11 in Dictation and Spelling, 11.10 to 11.30 in writing, 11.30 to 12.30 in Geography. lm the afternoon the work w«nt on on much the same lines:—Prom 1.10 to 2.15 Composition, 2.15 to 2.35 Comprehension (whatever that may mean), 2.35 to 3.5 English,, 3.10 to 4 Drawing. The points to bo obnerved are that these seven or eight subjects were crowded into one day, that they followed on each other vn most ca-J?s with no psreepfcibta break between, and that a very short time was devoted to each one of them. We leave to our educational authorities the task of deciding what value can be attached to a half-hour English paper as an entrance test for our. secondary schools.' But our main point is that children driven from one subject to an/other at this headlong speed woulil almost inevitably become muddled and bewildered, and that this fact alone is enough to account for the very poor results recorded for this test. We believe that strong objections have been taken to portions of the papers sot for the Auckland schools, as being too difficult or what ie worse still, as presenting tests of unequal difficulty for various groups of candidates in the same examination. This is a matter which we hope the Education Board will carefully consider. Without presuming to pronounce authoritatively on such a question, we venture to suggest thnt one of the " sets" of alternative subjects for composition was simply ludicrous in its inappropriateness. We can faintly conceive what would be the feelings of a child of thirteen or fourteen asked to choose one of the following subjects for an essay:— (1) The various forms of insurance now in use and their -advantages; (i) the Treasures of the Sea; (3) Direct and Indirect Taxation and the merits of each. These subjects wen? actually set. and comment upon them is perhaps superfluous. But what we have said may be enough to indicate that there may be a good deal of excuse for the widespread protests evoked from parents and teachers by the results of the hist Certificate of Proficiency examinations.
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