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EDUCATIONAL REFORM., Issue 8044, 22 October 1889
Mr J. G. Wilson, M.H.R., who was chairman of the Education Committee that was set up in the session of 1887, has addressed the following ciroular letter to the education boards in the colony t I received a promise from the Premier last session that a circular would be sent out to the various education boards and inspectors to ask if they had any alteration to BUggeat in the syllabus. This is an opportunity, I believe, of doing great good to our educational system. There are many mistakes in our syllabus, especially the relative time devoted to the subjects. The department has the control of the syllabus, yet has little opportunity of observing the practical working of it in schools. Any alteration, therefore, wbich is made in the syllabus is more likely to come from the public than from the department. Here is an opportunity for the public to express its views through the education boards, which, with their inspectors, have an intimate knowledge of the working of the syllabus and its defects. I write to ask your Board to carefully consider the matter and report as fully as possible, so that the department may feel the necessity of some alteration. I may add that I suggested a conference to consider the answers sent in. The Premier, although not promising this, is favorable to the idea. I venture with some diffidence to mention a few of the glaring mistakes in the syllabus. 1. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic—the importance of which all are agreed on—l should add drawing as one of the premier subjects. It does not receive anything like the proportionate amount of time which, from ita importance to the future welfare of the pupil, it ought to receive. It is the basis of all technical education. No matter what the pupil is destined for, drawing taught in the proper way ia of the utmost importance. It is of great service as a mental training; it forms an agreeable interlude to the other lessons, and can be taught by any of the present schoolmasters, if they have an opportunity (as they ought to have) of being taught in a proper school. 2. Singing upon the tonic sol-fa system should also have some prominence. It should te as easy for a child to read music as to read its lesson books. The teaching ef music is a matter of more difficulty. Although those who have full knowledge of the subjeot say no child cannot bo taught to sing, still some of the schoolmasters are too old to learn. Many, fortunately, already know the system, and in some schools the ehildren sing admirably. 3. Science in the higher classes should have relation to the pursuits likely to be followed by the majority of the pupils, such as mineralogy for the mining districts, agriculture and dairying for the farming districts. I may say with regard to this that the Government have promised me that manuals on these two important subjects shall be prepared for the use of schools. 4. The subjects of geography, grammar, history, etc., receive far too much time at present relative to their importance. The public mind iB strong in this direction. 5. Drill should form a part of every day's work. The discipline in schools, in a country where discipline is lax, is beneficial. Girls should all be taught the use of clubs, if there are no other gymnastic exercises possible. Every encouragement should be given by all connected with education to the good old English outdoor games, which our public schoolboys seem sadly deficient in.
6. The syllabus should allow of much more discretionary power being given to the inspectors. Often it is in the interests of education that some alteration should be made—in small country sohools, for instance, with one teacher. The inspector has no power but to enforce the syllabus in its entirety. Many think the syllabus overcrowded, but I think if it were divided in the way I have suggested it would not be found so.
The importance of the subject to our future national advancement must be my excuse for addressing you at such length.
EDUCATIONAL REFORM., Issue 8044, 22 October 1889
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