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University and Educational Intelligence

Nature volume 85, page 327 (05 January 1911) | Download Citation



THE discussions at a conference of teachers in rural schools, held in London on December 28, 1910, under the auspices of the National Union of Teachers, showed that teachers are recognising more fully the desirability of making the education in elementary schools in country districts so far as possible of a practical kind, which will train the children for agricultural and other country avocations in later life. A resolution was adopted unanimously urging that, wherever possible, some teaching in handicraft and housecraft should be given to children in rural schools, and that, where necessary and practicable, centres for instruction in these subjects should be formed. It was suggested during the discussion that central school farms might be established, where practical work on the land could be carried on by boys drafted from neighbouring schools. It was recognised, also, that actual work in a garden abounds in opportunities for the best lessons in observation, attention to detail, never putting off until to-morrow what ought to be done to-day, as well as the cultivation of the virtues more commonly associated with the moral instruction lesson. Another resolution, unanimously carried, deplored the continuance of the partial exemption system, and declared that the time has arrived when no child shall be either partially or totally exempt from attendance at school before fourteen years of age. A discussion on continuation schools in rural districts revealed some diversity of opinion, but the meeting eventually decided that, having regard to the impossibility of satisfactorily organising and coordinating continuation work in rural districts, where children are at present allowed to secure partial exemption from school attendance at the early age of eleven or twelve for the purpose of employment, no exemption, either partial or whole-time, from day-school attendance should be granted until the age of fourteen years is attained, all wage-earning child labour out of school hours under the age of fourteen should be forbidden by law, and these conditions having been secured, a system of compulsory attendance at continuation schools or other suitable educational institutions from the age of fourteen to eighteen, accompanied by provisions which should safeguard young people against undue physical or mental overstrain, should be an integral part of a national system of education.

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