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SCHOOL HOLIDAYS., Issue 7953, 8 July 1889
At Wednesday’s sitting of the Educational Institute the Dunedin and Suburban Schools’ Conference—represented by Messrs B. Isaac (chairman), J. White, F. Wilkinson, and Cohen —attended as a deputation for the purpose of conferring as to the most suitable time for holding the midwinter holidays. Mr Cohen explained that the Conference, which had (more than once considered this matter, thought it would be best for all persons concerned if an agreement could be come to by the committees represented at the Conference, the teachers, and the inspectors, by which the holidays could be fixed for a period of the year that would furnish the least discomfort and inconvenience. Easter had been suggested, but it was found that that date would not suit a great many; and he believed it had been found that the early part of June was generally inconvenient. The Conference thought if the teachers could adopt the first week of the University midwinter vacation the teachers themselves would be advantaged, a large section of the University students, who were more or less connected with the teaching profession, might be induced to take an interest in the proceedings of the Institute, and the needed break in the inspectors’ examinations could be obtained without seriously interfering with the latter’s arrangements. In the way suggested uniformity of holidays would be secured and existing inconveniences removed. While on his feet he might mention one matter connected with this question. For bis own Committee he would say, and it was desirable that it should be properly understood, that they regarded these holidays as given primarily to enable teachers to attend the sessions of the Institute; but if they found that a section of the teachers did not choose to attend the Institute’s meetings they might be obliged to consider whether the school ought to be closed merely for the purpose of giving either the .head-masters or teachers a weeks holiday. Mr Wilkinson said be quite endorsed the remarks which had been made by Mr Cohen as to the desirability of some arrangement being come to which would suit all parties—the feeling of t' e majority of the committees seemed to point in this direction. In the case of the Kaikorai, that Committee had in the past generally followed the lead of the City schools, or acquiesced in the request of the Education Board to grant holidays to suit the meetings of the Institute, but the Kaikorai Committee had frequently found that the examination of the school took place immediately after the holidays, and the school suffered in consequence. He had no doubt that this was the experience of other schools as well as of his own. But there was another aspect of the question-viz., the advisability of having a holiday at midwinter, in order that both teachers and scholars might enjoy a short period of rest or relaxation from the hard work in which they were engaged. For bis own part he might say that he was greatly in favor of an occasional holiday, and would allow committees a certain amount of freedom from hard and fast rules in granting a holiday when they saw fit. It did both teachers and scholars good to get a holiday occasionally. Therewas anothermatterinoonnection with this subject which he asked permission to mention, and that was the prevailing uncertainty as to the period at which any school would be examined by the inspectors. As a rule teachers were kept in a state of suspense, and the same work was gone over—in some oases week after week—until the pnpils could almost repeat their books off by heart; yet when the inspector arrived he found fault with the children for knowing their lessons too well.— (Laughter.) Such circumstances were within hh (Mr Wilkinson’s) own knowledge and observation. He thought, therefore, that the inspectors might fairly be asked to draw up a chart or programme, showing the approximate date ou which every school would be examined. This would enable teachers to better arrange their work, and would be fairer and more beneficial to the pupils. He hoped that an arrangement would be arrived at which would work well and would suit the grrate t number. Mr White did not agree with what had fallen from Mr Cohen in regard to these holidays. He personally felt, as did his eommitte j, that the vacation was quite as much in tbe interests of the children as of tbe teachers, Mr Isaac shared the feelings of the last speaker, and woold add that the holidays were required for (unitary purposes. The objection to them seemed to come from parents, who at this season of the year were particularly av.r.e
to having their children at home lest they should make the house rather dirty. (Laughter.) He mentioned that he had recently argued the matter with ft householder in his district, and learned from him that it was “the old woman ” who strongly objected to having the house made untidy after it had been once cleaned. But on patting it to the husband that he would be all the better himself for a holiday in the middle of the year ho at oooeadmltted the reasonableness of the proposition, and said he would hold bis tongue for tho future. The Institute’s Committee, to whom this matter had been referred, reported that they had unanimously decided to recommend that the first week of tho University midwinter vacation be recommended as the suitable time for tin Institute’s annual meeting, and th it the school examinations should not be resumed until a fortnight after the schools reassembled. Mr Fitzgerald, in moving the adoption or the Committee’s report, said he wished tho members of the Institute to notice that the Committee was a fairly representative one, Tu*peka, Milton, Oamarn, and Dunedin being represented, as well as the University student teachers, and that they were unanimous in making tho recommendation. In the interests of the Institute and of education it would be well that a 1 teachers and students should be free daring Inst tuta week. There should be no difficulty in connection with the primary schools; they had neither quarter days nor tees, and vacation at the time proposed would not interfere with examination arrangements. The High Schools had their quarter days and fees, tho University had its midwinter vacation in the middle of the session, and there might bo difficulty in getting either of these to alter their arrangements; but, as a change of only one week in both cases would make the vacation general, it would be the duty of the Committee of Management, in the event of the report being adopted, to place the matter before the governing bodies of these institutions, and endeavor to get their consent to the slight change. In the meantime, consideringthe importanceof thelarge body of student-teachers, the Committee felt brand to recommend the first week of the University midwinter vacation. He did not consider himself called on to speak on behalf of holidays. They might be defended historically, and they might be defended on sanitary grounds, as Mr Isaac had well said ; but he thought it his duty to state briefly but emphatically that they weie required by both pupils and teachers for recreation. The pupils had just completed a halfyear’s hard work, in the City and suburban schools they had just completed their annual examination, and, although they might be a slight nuisance in homes where accommodation was scanty and surroundings wet and dirty, yet the holiday was a clear gain both to health and spirits. Teachers knew well the renewed vigor, mental and physical, with which the children returned to their work after sach a change. But the holiday was absolutely necessary to keep the teachers in good working condition. They all knew that the work of the teacher was a peculiar work, and a work he was never done with. When he closed his school door he did not leave the work behind him. Come upon a gtoup of teachers on a Saturday, and ten to one they were at their work. They took it to their homes j they were known to take it even to their beds. On more ♦hull one occasion had he himself taught iu his sleep the lesson he had just prepared for next day; and be knew he was not alone in this matter. The teacher who did his duty did it night and day, and at an expense of nerve energy that rendered recreation absolutely necessary. He would not, however, on that ground defend the midwinter school vacation, and he used that term advisedly rather than the terra holiday. He had just reported on the best time for the Institute meetings, and he claimed tho week as the Institute week. The Institute was engaged in the work of education; good work it hod done not only in Otago but throughout New Zealand. It must have time to carry on its work. Teachers must be free to do it, and he hoped school committees would take care that the work was not hindered by teachers b ling detained in their schools. He could not approve of committees enjoining their teachers t) attend the meetings of the Institute; bat he was not surprised to find intelligent committees feeling disappointment at their teachers absenting themselves, except under special circumstances. They might well consider their teacher’s absence a professional loss to himself, and therefore a loss to their school. Speaking for himself, he said the attendance was no holiday. There was bard work to do, but it was a change of work, lifting the mind off the daily routine, and therefore it was recreation. Ho never attended an annual meeting of the Institute without receiving benefit from the papers read, the discussions held, and the intercourse with his fellow-teachers; and he was not alo in this position. He called attention io the importance of the arrangement made by inspectors this vear to allow at lea it a fortnight after the vacation to pass before resuming the annual examinations. It was at the suggestion of the Institute that this arrangement was cordially made for the benefit of those schools to be next examined; and ho hoped that this would help tiwardsa unanimous adoption of the report. He expressed bis pleasure in finding the report of the Committee so fully in accord with the ooinions of the City and Suburban Schools Cinference. , , , Mr Piper (Oamaiu) said that, as a freetrader in these matters, he objected to thejthreat held out by one of the deputation’s speakers. The difficulty had been got over by passing toe inconvenience on to Waitaki; but, recognising the greatest good of the greatest number, they acquiesced in the decision come to. Mr Babnetp spoke as a country teacher, who, after an arduous term preparing for the examinations, welcomed the week’s respite, which was accorded solely to enable them to attend the Institute’s meeting, He reminded them that the privilege did not exist before the Institute was established, and they should do nothing to risk its continuance. Mr Cohen explained that his remarks, to which exception had been taken, did not proceed from him as an individual but as a delegate of a school committee. At the annual meeting of householders in his own district, and in the Conference, he had urged that these holidays were necessary, but he was in a minority on both occasions, and therefore felt bound not to express his own opinions but the views of those he represented, and he wished to say distinctly —he could not sufficiently emphasise the fact - that the feeling among householders and committees, as well as he had been able to ascertain it, was that this particular vacation was not granted on account of the children, but to enable the teachers to meet in coafirenee for the purpose of discussing matters connected with the material interests of their own profession, and for the advancement of the cause of education generally. If, however, it was found that a large number of teachers appreciated the concession so lightly as to decline to attend the Institute’s sittings or lake little or no interest in tho proceedings, it might become necessary for committees to consider whether they were justified in closing their schools. He was expressing the mind of bis colleagues when he said that the conclusions of the Institute’s Committee met with their warm approval, and while thanking them for their courteous reception, hoped that tho good feeling existing between the two bodies would be long maintained, and that the Institute would persevere in their laudable endeavors to sustain a healthy public opinion in regard to matters educational, and to improve and perfect the national scheme that both bodies were concerned in administering. The Committee’s report was unanimously adopted. "
SCHOOL HOLIDAYS., Issue 7953, 8 July 1889
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