THE KINDEKGARTEN IN DUNEDIN.
The Dunedin Kindergarten Association has made a commencement with its selfimposed and benignant labors, the first school opened under its auspices beiug now in full work at the St. Andrew’s Mission Hall, Walker street. Why the Mission Hall ? some may ask. Is this movement a disguised auxiliary of Presbyterianism? No; it is not. The Mission Hall was chosen simply because it was the most convenient of tho three or four halls offered to the Committee, and there is no coloring of church teaching in the instruction given to the little toddlers of which we are speaking, unless, indeed, thebrieksand wood secrete and exude a flavoring from the regular services. If further assurance be required, it may be found in the fact that the Association was founded and is fostered by citizens of diverse opinions in matters theological men and women who would probably find no communion of thought on questions of faith and church polity, but who are as one in regarding the establishing of kindergartens ns a forward step in the sacred work of training the young, and thus enabling them to commence life unhampered by an entail of indifference. It was our privilege to visit the school one day this week, under tho escort of the Rev. R. Waddell, and it will interest many readers to learn some particulars of the work. Miss Wiencko, the lady in charge, has had the advantage of a special training in kindergarten work in tho Fatherland, and on arriving in the colony was in charge of a private school in Christchurch, which position she held until coming to Dunedin in May last to accept her present appointment. The asslstantsareMlssCresswell and Miss Gresham, who are qualifying to take charge of other schools that may be opened, it being one of the rules of tho Association to issue certificates of competency to those teachers who prepare themselves by a two years’ course of training under an approved principal. There arc forty-four children on tho roll, and usually about thirty iu attendance. On the morning of our visit there were tweuty-eight, arranged in four rows, and all attired in tho uniform “pinny” of brown Holland with red facings—articles which at present are used iu school hours only and retained on the premises. The little ones were classed in two divisions—senior and junior. The elder ones, of sufficient ago to be entrusted with exercise book and pencil, were at first busily occupied in drawing straight and oblique lines in imitation of an example set on the blackboard. These wee students were uuder the immediate charge of Miss Wicnekc, whose method of imparting instruction in a manner that kept alive the interest of tho children—careful, on the one hand, not to oppress or discourage the dull mind, while adequately recognising the work of the sharper of her pupils—was such as to commend itself to our warmest admiration. Really tho children did their lessons very creditably considering that the eldest was not more than six years of age ; but it must require an illimitable store of patience to be for ever engaged in spurring one, checking another, reproving a third, and so on, and doing it all, as Miss Wieneke does, without getting out of touch with the children by the manifestation of injustice to any. While the senior pupils were employed as stated, tho younger ones, some of them mere babies of four or five years, were receiving object lessons in interlacing colored papers so as to form pretty squares, this branch of the work being supervised by the assistants, who also appear to be well advanced in their profession, in that they apprehend the necessity of laboring without murmur, though faced by trials that would have delighted Mark Tapley, Tommy needed to be shown how every other minute ; Jane had her immature thoughts firmly fixed on dinner or some object foreign to kindergarten ; Johnny vainly endeavored to keep the alternation of stitches ; but for all evils there was an emollient—a cheerful word of encouragement here, a motherly reproof there ; and tho work of the school went placidly on, under the guidance of these three ladies, and with as close an approach to decorum as one would find at a university class. The second half of the school duty was the manual exercise, in which the children are trained together under tho direct tuition of the principal. This was great fun to the youngsters; they seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, and most of them were so actively on the alert that the answers to questions were shot forth in chorus before the words of the query had been fairly uttered. Interspersed with the manual movements were short lessons on familiar subjects, such as the operations of the farmer and the carpenter; and tho little songs illustrative of and accompanying tho sowing and reaping of the grain, the sawing and planing of the timber, etc., seemed to us to be of special service. Then, by way of variety, Miss Wieneke occasionally permitted tho children to select their own subject. “ What shall we do next ? ” “ The birds ! ” was the almost universal answer, when the first permissive subject was mooted. “ Very well; wo will have the birds. Now, which of you can call the cuckoo ? ” A dozen candidates for the distinction promptly set up a cry as nearly as possible like that of th > bird mentioned. One only was required to take tho solo, but the teacher judiciously allowed a second to participate, there being a danger of wounding the feelings of this young man, who was rejected on a previous occasion; and the pair were sent merrily gambolling round the inside of the circle while the other children chanted a rhyme on the subject. Other lessons of the same sort followed, and the morning was indeed spent in a pleasant and profitable manner. We were informed that there is a change of programme ever day in tho week, and were shown a large variety of kindergarten material ready for use as occasion demands—articles that serve the double purpose of toys and tools.
The question may well be asked : How is this work maintained—who pays? Well, the expense is keptdown to a minimum by the Committee having the free use of the hall and there being but one paid employee; and what money .is required is subscribed by members and well-wishers. We understand that the calls for aid have been so far responded to in a generous spirit—indeed the Rev, R. Waddell has never been met with a refusal—and this has enabled the Committee to very nearly meet demands so far. But funds are yet needed. The school must make arrangements for an increased number of pupils ; and there is urgent necessity for these free kindergartens in other parts of the town. Who will help in this movement—-a movement which has now fairly grown out of the region of experiment, and is accepted by wise men in older countries as the only solution of a problem that has for ages past been a complete riddle ? Charity is not asked ; the promoters of this Association do not beg for alms ; they make an appeal to those who
have the wherewithal to volunteer from their abundance for the complete furnishing of a system that has for its aims the promulgation of a new gospel—a gospel the fertilising power of which shall produce figs from soil hitherto overrun with thistles, and utilise social resources that for lack of appreciation have hitherto lain dormant or suffered perversion, to tho detriment of society at large.
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THE KINDEKGARTEN IN DUNEDIN., Evening Star, Issue 7982, 10 August 1889, Supplement
THE KINDEKGARTEN IN DUNEDIN. Evening Star, Issue 7982, 10 August 1889, Supplement
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