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THE APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS., Issue 7937, 19 June 1889
THE APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS.
TO TUB EDITOR. Sir,—There is probably no point of our educational sy3tcin that required to be so carefully conserved as the appointment of teachers. I have for some weeks daily looked for an expression of opinion from a more experienced pen than mine ; but as no one, however, appears willing to opeu a discussion on the subject, I propose to draw attention to the matter. The system that obtained towards the latter portion of my term of ollico as a member of the Board was as follows: We fixed a certain standard which in our opinion was sufficiently high for the position, and sent down the names of all qualified applicants, unless there was some objection of a moral nature. The reason for the adoption of this course was, I believe, that some members felt that it was a dangerous precedent to endeavor to make a selection on the scanty material before them, and my own view of the matter was that I felt that my ignorance of the merits of individual candidates, more espe cially when contrasted with the accurate knowledge of Borne of my fellow-members, who made a special study of this matter, placed mo at a great disadvantage; in a word, it was a relief to transfer the whole thing to the 'committees. Then began an applicant's troubles. It was recognised as almost a nccePEity for every candidate who was not well known to interview tho members of the Committee in order to afford the latter an opportunity of forming an opinion of tho candidate's fitness in a personal interview—very often expense had to be incurred in vniting a local committee, and tho practice had, obviously, many objections. So much against tho system of sending down many names to committees. On the other hand, I think members of the Board, past and present, will bear me out in saying that in tho majority of cases teaching merit carried the day, committees being very jealous of their schools. Occasionally local interest turned the scale, but on the whole tho selections left little to be desired. The Board now selects three names, and this I take it means that members of the Board are sure to be approached by friends of applicant*, who naturally would seek a friend at both courts. What is a member to do now ? A personal friend or an interesting teacher interviews him; he cannot be ru''e to them ; indeed, it is his duty to see them, as he has to judge of their fitness, He must temporise. The old answer: "We have nothing to do with the appointment of teachers; go to tho Committee" is no longer open to him. His next struggle is to bring an unbiassed mind to the Board table, and then he discovers that there are perhaps a dozen equally qualified teachers who are unknown to him ; he cannot trace their scholastic career, time forbids, and whilst he is lost in doubt, and nervous lest he should unwittingly do a wrong, ho hears a brother member praise a candidate, whereupon ho makes a close study of his fellow-member's face to see if he has got rid of his bias, and is possibly seized with a suspicion which may lead him to do wrong, and reject a good man because he has been badly introduced. I do not wish to cast ridicule in any way on present members. It is the system which I attack. I am giving my own experience. I freely confess that very often when I prided myself most on taking a fresh departure and independent action, I can see now that I was unconsciously a mero puppet. Superior knowledge and generalship pulled the wires. Applicants now, I take it, have a double task ; they must interview members of the Board first and members of committees afterwards. The final selection by the committees is a complete farce, and the latter bodies may just as well say to the Board at once : " You have virtually taken from us our principal function; make the appointment yourselves and take the responsibility." The Board stop just short of making the appointment, and no one section, I should think, is satisfied. If the committees will consent to abandon what has grown to be considered almost a right—if they are content to be shorn of all power—then let the Board send down one name. Teachers can then know exactly where they stand, and members of the Board will thcu bave to make a close study
of their teachers, and the task of making "appointments" will have to be carried out in quite a different stylo to that adopted at present. I believe that wc arc fortunate in possessing iu this province a body of teachers who can compare iavorably in point of efficiency with any tcachcru in the world. We should be careful to see that they get fair treatment, and should guard most jealously against anythiug like patronage or favoritism, It is the thinnest end of a wedge that is most dangerous.—l am, etc., Ex-Member, Dunedin, June 18.
THE APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS., Issue 7937, 19 June 1889
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