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EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE.

The Dunedin branch of the Otago Educational Institute held the fiist meeting of the new session at tho Normal School this morning j present-Misses Beveridge, Kelly, Alexander, Harlow, J. Fraser, 0. Fraser, Fitzgerald, Watson, Jones, Donald, Campbell, and Kingston, Messrs Fitzgerald, White, Reid, E. Smith, G. H. Smith, VV, Grey, Balsille, Chilton, M'Nicoll, Kenton, Ferguson, Johnston, Pino, etowart, Bastings, King, Spencer, Eudey, Gill, ami Landreth, Mr G. H, Smith, who had been elected president at a previous meeting, took his seat, and leturned thanks for the honor placed upon him in electing him to the position. On the motion of Mr Ouilton, secondi d by Mr White, the president was appointed representative of the branch on the general Committee of management. The President said that he ha;l done bis boat to arrange a full programme for the session, and bad been so far successful that there was only one vacancy to fill up. Ho hoped to be able to announce at next meeting that the programme was complete, and meanwhile thought that the thanks of the Institute were due to Miss Fraser for consenting to supply the first paper, most of those who had been asked to provide papers being anxious to be placed towards the end of the list. oOR GIRLS. Miss M. J. Fraser (ot George street School) then read the following paper on tiie subject of ‘ Our Girls’: —“To road and to write comes by nature,” says Dogberry. “Yes; and to sew and to cook and to make a home out of a house,” says a clear-headed observer of our school course. “ For I notice that tho girls are at school, or engaged in preparation for school, when time would lend itself to tho handing on of traditional household lore from mother todaughter.” Under the head of “Sweating,” 1 lately saw a caricatured account of a High School boy’s Jay. Let me present for a moment a not uncommon timetable for a girl’s day t At seven o’clock or halfpast seven she rises; from half-past seven till eight she is engaged ih dressing yottnger childrefi; in lielping to set the breakfast, or, very commonly, in impatiently dawdling about waiting for breakfast; then till half-past eight breakfast itself occupies her attention; then in many households oomes a hurried scrambling search for boots, books, hats, and caps, which, for want ot time or management, were not put awiy overnight. At nine o’clock, or shortly aft,,-., ,vur girl has fairly started on her way to school, .it half-past four the school day is usually so f i finished that moat girls have arrived home to see the housework done, and perhaps to find before them only an hoar’s message-running or piano-strumming. Then comes tea, and after tea lessons till bedtime. No time hero for instruction in common housework. “ Oh.” it might be said, “ but aim has Saturdays, and can then receive instruction in all the beautiful home arts. ’ If Saturdays wore so spent there might be no occasion for i.Uch a paper as I wish to write, but our grown-up and growing-up girls’ ignorance of the commonest rudiments of sewing and cookery proves that they are not so used. I take it that when our legislators decided that education should be free and compulsory, they did so with the object of increasing the power if the State by increasing the intelligence and power of tho individuals composing it. The question is, however, hourly forced upon us whether tiro type of education chosen is tho typo best fitted to attain tho end in view. Now, it was quito natural that the typo of education before the minds of the authorities should bo literary education, for that was tho only typo as yet systematically attempted. In these later days, however, wo hear a great outcry in favor of tho manual training of boys Of tho industrial training of girls wo hear little. It is true that under the syllabus we have to teach what tho authorities call sewing; but if our girls have to rely solely on what is taught them under that heal, I pity tho clothes of the coming generation. V’o teach gir's to put in stitches, it is true, and to put in very neat stitches, too, but as regat (Is tho sowing of the thtif-y housewife we teach nothing. This, I maintain, is not the fault of tho teach-rs but tho fault of the work the teachers have to do. 1 suppose when our syllabus was being compiled tho idia struck some fatherly old membtr that as some girls marry and take care of some of the sewing of the world it would bo as well to make girls learn sewing in addition to ordinary school lessons. In addition-yes, that is where tho trouble comes in, it is all addition our syllabus • makers do not seem, to have got into subtraction yet. In giving boys some knowledge of tho use (f tools we do well, though we have no guarantee that the aptitude thus acquired will be of direct practical service; in giving girls such industiial training as 1 wish wo could give them we should do better, for wo know certainly that such training must biing results directly beneficial to themselves and others. I suppose there is not 1 per cent, of women—even wage earning women—not called upon to assist ia some tn-aaure in the management of a home. Yet, in the face of this knowledge, our work has been laid down for us on such lines that we dare not aid in practically preparing our girls for their natural duties. I say dare iwt advisedly, for if we attempt to tack industrial training on to our present school woik we shall simply be doing onr gMa an injury. Surely if our laws deny ow girls the privilege of gaining such training in their own homes, provision should bo made for their gaining it elsewhere. It seems to mo that, with small alteration in our rcliool course, this elsewhere might bo found in onr schools. This is, of course, en the supposition that a school is something more than a place where so much reading, writing, and arithmetic is supplied at so much per head. I suppose we are all agreed that a little arithmetic and geography and grammar and history is neither here nor there, so long as principles used have been grasped. Well, in the first place, partly to admit of the special training of girls in tho branches named, partly because women best understand giris, I would have girls taught by none but women—women of pleasant countenance and womanly ways; women impressed with the fact that in the trainingofthemothersof a future generation they have undertaken the most important and the mist difficult work of the world. Did not tho first Napoleon lament tho lack of mothers—real mothers —in France ? Yea ; and Napoleon HI. attributed the impotence of France to the lack in her people of those qualities of endurance ami s-lf-restraict widen can be pinned only in tiie earliest years by gentle mitber-care. “Nations,” says Smiles, “are but the outcorns of homes and peoples of mothers, 5 * Hut to return. Having such teachers in charge of our girls’ education, we might safely leave a groat deal to their prudence and individuality. Arithmetic, that great bugbear of 90 per cent, of our girls, might be made much lighter. I do not say that every girl should learn leas arithmetic than at present, but that the 90 per cent, should be Jet off more easily. By all moans cultivate, and cultivate to the utmost special aptitude, where it exists, but do leave off torturing tho great majority to whom the beautiful science cf fijures must over remain unrevealod, and to whom mi lunette can never be more than “doing sums.” Spelling, of course, and writing must icmnin as at present. Reading might receive oven more attention, for it seems me that good, clear, intelligible reading is one of tho prettiest, and by no means one of tho commonest, accomplishments obtainable. Gen cot and graceful "composition, which in very commonly the outcome of choosing tho company of good atdbois, I should encourage as much as possible, bitch a programme as this—drawing, geography, history and science or object lessons omitted, and arithmetic lightened—might bo overtaken in the two and a-half or three hours of morning school, and then wo should have a gloiicus useful afternoon. In tho earlier part of this paper I spoke of our practical failure to teach sowing. Onr girls come with work cut out for them at home, or else tho teacher cuts it out at school. Even the hardestworking and most exemplary teacher <an do little more than point out how particular parts of tho garment in course of manufacture are to bo joined. There is no time for explanation as to why such and such a part is shaped so ; no discussion as to tho proportion between different parts; no attempt at practical cutting out on the part of the pupil. It will be noticed that I have proposed tho omission of drawing from tiie girls’ course. While fully appreciating the reasons for which drawing was added to our syllabus, I think tho objects aimed at can be Just as well attained by means of cutting out lessons. In practically teaching cutting out girls could receive instruction as to certain definite proportions to be observed in shaping the particular garment in hand Draw the outline on paper, and then cut the cloth to the shape of the paper. This, I take it, would meet all the aims of our present drawing syllabus and be infinitely more useful than drawing gates and fences which would guard no man’s apple trees ; or sketching pears of exactly symmetrical shape. Of course, from the very beginning girls should tack and place their own work, so that at last they would become independent and solf-help-ful. Then, while tho class as a whole were quietly sewing, some book might be read aloud —now a book of travels (the only books, by the way, from which I ever learned any geography that stuck); now an account of some stirring scene in history. Again, some simple lesson on domestic management or laws of health, again some story of love and self sacrifice, and yet again a story inciting to laughter and merriment. I really believe that from such readings more instruction would be carried away than from all our elaborate history and geography lessons. Attention to tho readings might fitly be tested by means of composition exercises. These sewing lessons with a ten minutes’ interval for play, and ten minutes for systematic muscular exercises, would not occupy time disproportionate to their importance if two of the five afternoons per week

were devoted to them; , Tvyo more afternooqa per week I should devote to, lessons on the preparation of plain wholesome meals, cleanly prepared and comfortably served. Seeing that I have as yet no practical experience in the teaching of cookery, 1 shall, with your permission, give an account of the management cf cookery classes in primary schools as carried on in Liverpool. Two lessons are given on practical cookery each week, and a<e carried on in the ordinary class room. The first lesson is more of the nature of a lecture, accompanied by demonstration ; for the teacher, after explaining and eliciting the various qualities of the ingredients of the dish which she is compounding, proceeds to prepare and cook it before her class. In these demonstration lessons the pupils receive in truction as to the relative nutritive powers of different foods, and as co the relative merits of the different methods of coat ing those foods, so as to obtain the greatest possible nourishment therefrom. “If, says Smiles, “that man is to be regarded as a benefactor of his species who makes two stalks of corn to grow where only one grow before, not less is she to be regarded as a public benefactor who economises and turns to the best practical account the food products of human skill and labor. The improved use of even our existing supply would be equivalent to an immediate extension of the cultivable acreage of our country— not to speak of the increase in health, economy, and domestic comfort. Were our female reformers to turn their energies in this direction with effect, they would earn the gratitude of all households and bs esteemed as among the greatest of practical philanthropists.” There are words of approval from no mean man for tho women who give such instruction as lam trying to describe. On the other cookery lesson day the girls cany out, under tho eye of the teacher, the instructions given in the demonstration lesson. The work is usually carried on in sections, the girls working from a printed recipe giving quantities and general instructions as supplementary to the knowledge gained in the demonstration lesson. Of course each girl in the section takes her turn on different days td prepare the dish for tho day with her own hands, for cookery is so much a matter of nice judgment as to the consistency and general appearance of the preparation id hand that each girl must cook with her own bands. A gas stove is, in all cases, used—first, because of the small ttouble in heating it; and secondly, because when not in use a boarded cover, which servos for a table, may be placed over it, and hide everything unsightly. Flat tables, or baking-boards, are formed by placing planed deal boards across the ordinary schiol detks. The use of the ordinary schoolroom as a cooking room has the advantage of making it necessary to cultivate the habits of cleanly work and tidiness at all times. A small fee is charged to defray expenses of materials at first, but after a time the “cookies” of the girls become so popular that they are saleable at a price which covers all expense incurred. Of course these lessons entail extra trouble on somebody, and we should expect any note of dissatisfaction to come from those whose burdens it increases. Instead of any hint of disapproval, we find the Liverpool headmistresses, who, though not the'actual teachers, share in the increased burden, giving the movement their warmest support. To quote Miss Fanny L. (’aider, hon. secretary Liverpool Training School of Cookery: “The headmistresses have also written in cordial support of these lessons, and their opinion is extremely valuable, because on them devolves the only real trouble in connection with the matter-the arrangement of the classes. They say the girls stay longer at school to obtain this instruction, often even waiting fur a second coarse. They are more regular in attendance, and are perceptibly more intelligent and capable in their other work. After having taken cookery lessons they take great pleasure in the work, and (a fact much to bo noted) bring for their school dinner meat pasties, rice puddings, and such dishes, instead of their usual scanty provision ; and one writeradds: * Instead of teaching girls the higher branches of arithmetic, lot them devote more attention to those subjects wh'ch form the basis of domestic comfort and happiness,’ ” So much for those who have had practical experience in tho conduct of cookery classes. It is surely not like us in New Zealand, with our boasted advanced ideas, to lag behind in this important particular. Our fifth afternoon I should devote to systematic physical training, and about this I ace no difficulty. Every student who passes through our Normal School goes through a course of training in calisthenic and gymnastic exercises, and why should knowledge acquired there b? allowed to lie unustd ? Open-air exercise with dumbbells, wooden rods, and Indian clubs would benefit teacher and pupil alike, and do much to prevent the narrow chests, round shoulders, and turned-in toes so common in our streets. Then we should see cur girls “straight and as lissom as a hazil wand.” Where more complicated or elaborate gymnastic apparatus than those simple forma I have mentioned can be fitted up, more thorough-going training can be given; but lam c nfident that even very simple exercises, carefully and intelligently directed, could do much to remedy the present deplorable state of things, when strangers tell us that almost every one of out girls carries one shoulder higher than the other. In conclusion : I have perhaps been presumptuous in bringing my halting words to bear on this subject, but I write with the longing to see our girls fulfil more and more perfectly tho duties allotted to the last, and what ought to be tho best and purest, of G: d's creation, Mr Fiizgeuald thought that Miss Fraser had done good service in calling the attention of the Institute to the girls’ side of the syllabus. It might be that tho ladies themselves had been somewhat to blame in not coming forward and giving their views on the subject, but he hoped that the present paper might be taken as an indication that the experienced female teachers were inclined to come forward and give their valuable assistance. He did not agree with Miss Frnsertbatthc sexes shonldbe separated andglrls taught only by female teachers, but was at one with the author of the paper in thinking that some of the arithmetic might be modified in the syllabus and a better use made of the time by bestowing more attention on reading, English composition, physical training, and lessons in home duties. Ho hoped that the female and male teachers would join in so altering the syllabus as to give more time to sewing, practical drawing, cooking, and the science of health.

Mr White thought that Miss Fraser had taken a w iae and intelligent view of how our girls should be trained in public schools. He had not had much experience of sewing A Member : Not of buttons ?

Mr White ; No, not oven sowing on buttons, but had been given to understand that the subject bad not received proper attention ; and cooking also had been neglected He thought the syllabus was too much of a masculine syllabus, and hoped the ladies would say how this could be remedied. The President said it had often occurred to him that much of the tuition on stocks, profit and loss, decimal fractions, and such subjects were of very little use to girls in after life, ard that the teaching might with advantage be altered so as to be of practical service, somewhat on tiie lines suggested by Miss Fraser. Mr Gim. would emphatically oppose the separate teaching of girls by girls, believing that boys would suffer by tho separation. Mr M'Nicoll agreed, on the whole, with tho views brought forward by Miss Fraser. Mr Spencer thought that cooking should receive more attention than the teaching of stocks, adverbs, and prepositions. He did not ace why girls who woro really interested in cooking. and specially anxious for Information on such a subject, should be compelled to waste timo on decimals, cube roots, and such like humbug, for it was humbug to compel girls to spend time on matters that would never be of any service to them, Ho thought that teachers should be freed to some extent from the burden of the syllabus, and that teachers should bo allowed some portion of time in which to teach what commended itself to their judgment. He moved a vote of thanks to Miss Frassr. Mr Pirie seconded the motion. Mr Chilton supported the motion, which was carried by acclamation. In acknowledging the vote, Miss FfIASEE explained that cutting out was taught in the schools, but not to the best advantage, as the cbi'dren simply wasted their time in operating on paper.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890803.2.11

Bibliographic details

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE., Issue 7976, 3 August 1889

Word Count
3,297

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE. Issue 7976, 3 August 1889

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