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THE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE., Issue 7955, 10 July 1889
THE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE.
The proceedings of the Educational Institute have been more than ordinarily interesting this year. It is evident that the Institute is growing in vigor and in comprehension—to use a word for which schoolmasters and school inspectors have a great partiality. A large number of subjects were discussed, and some of the papers read showed exceptional ability. In any conference of schoolmasters a certain amount of dogmatism and pedantry is to be expected ; but these qualities, being characteristic of the profession, are not offensive—on the contrary, they add piquancy and a peculiar interest to the whole proceedings. If we were disposed to find fault with anything connected with the discussions which have just closed, it would not be with such peculiarities, but with the tenor of Mr D. Ross’s motion with regard to the basis of the Institute. This motion was to the effect that one of its functions should be “ to try by all legal means to have “the duties and responsibilities of “ teachers clearly defined and recog- “ nised, and their incomes made com“mensurate therewith, and to guard “their interests generally.” It was satisfactory to find that the older members of the Institute objected to turning it into a teachers’ “union”; and it is to be hoped that maturer reflection will convince the younger members who favored the proposal that anything like a vigorous prosecution of this particular object would be apt to defeat their own end. There are certain occupations and professions which are never remunerated according to the duties and responsibilities which they entail. The teaching profession is one of these. In no country are the teachers of the ordinary class to whom the education of the people is entrusted, paid in proportion to their duties and responsibilities; and the moment the members of this profession the mother, we might say, of all the professions begin to think more of their remuneration than of their duties and the dignity of their calling, they will lose the respect of the public and sink into the condition of mere hirelings or mercenaries. The man who becomes a teacher must renounce the hope or desire for wealth; this end, if he would consult his own self-respect or usefulness, must be sacrificed for the sake of his profession. Such is the natural perversity of things, or perhaps we should say the ordination of Providence, that the most valuable services are generally poorly rewarded. Thus the teacher of youth who holds himself erect has to seek , for compensation elsewhere—in love of his work or the consciousness of its value to mankind. As regards our own Colony, we know nothing that would more surely tend to the destruction of that system of education of which we are all apt to boast than an attempt on the part of the teachers to adopt the aims and methods of a trade union. The question as to the appointment of teachers, which received a good deal of attention at the meeting of the Institute, is quite a different matter, and comes legitimately within their sphere of operation. They have a right to speak out on this subject, and they have done so in unmistakable terms. The Committee appointed to consider the question reported against the method recently adopted by the Education Board, recommending that the schools should be classified, and that the Board should in the meantime revert to the practice of selecting names according to rank. There is apparently a belief in the existence of favoritism in the appointments. Be this as it may, dissatisfaction with the existing modeof appointingseems to prevail among the teachers—too much to be altogether unfounded. One member of the Institute went the length of advocating the abolition of the boards and committees and the vesting of their powers in a Council of Education. The Committee, however, to which we have referred seemed to think the existing machinery sufficient for the purpose if it were only properly worked that is to say, if the boards would act fairly and generously towards the committees and the teachers. Our local board will probably take a hint from the resolutions adopted by the Institute. The boards, irresponsible bodies though they practically are, have performed a valuable service to the country; and it will be their own fault if some amending Act—such as that drafted by the late Minister of Education—should sweep them away. As long as they exercise their authority in a fairly impartial and efficient manner they will, we are sure, be supported and defended by the public] Another subject discussed by the Institute was technical and industrial education. The - president’s opening address was strongly in favor of a move in this direction. He referred to what some of the most progressive countries were doing in the matter, and said—what indeed has been constantly said within the last few years—that if the British people at Home and abroad are-to hold their own in the great industrial competition of the time, they must give their youth a more practical education. The difficulty is to crowd so many subjects into our common school work; and to abandon the old system, which has trained so many generations, for a system distinctively technical, would be in great measure to substitute the education of the mere
sectional worker for that of the human being. Dr Belcher read an admirable paper on the other side for the purpose of showing that the old-fashioned education is the most “ useful ” kind after all, and that the character of much of our modern civilisation and modes of thought is due to the once almost universal classical discipline. With this conclusion, however, we disagree. He admits that the humanities are falling into the background, but contends that a technical or scientific training would be no substitute for them. The tide of public opinion, especially in the colonies, is running strong against the old studies, nor is it likely there will be a reaction in their favor. Man does not live by bread alone. Still, he cannot live without bread; and as it is neither possible nor desirable that all should be educated after the same pattern, a proper national system should include the various kinds and descriptions of education. Something must be conceded to the demand for a more scientific training, though it would be easy to inflict a serious injury On our common school system by going too far in this direction. There is no reason why the scholar should be a mechanic, and the mechanic is, except in rare instances, denied the attainments of the scholar; but there is just as little reason why the school education of the industrial class should be of a predominantly technical character. The proper object of education is first of all to fit a man for acting a man’s pvrt in the world, whatever his sphere may be, and not merely to fit him for a certain kind of manual labor; and we doubt if it is possible to combine apprenticeship with the ordinary school education on any extensive scale. This, however, is no argument against the desirableness of technical education, On some of the other subjects discussed by tho Institute—especially that of ‘Juvenile Offenders, ’ so ably treated by Mr Morrison—wo shall have something to say on a future occasion.
THE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE., Issue 7955, 10 July 1889
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