Selective mechanisms for general science education : a history of the development of general science education in New Zealand, 1900-1943 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts in History at Massey University

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Free education has been the right of every New Zealand citizen since 1877 when free secular education was established in all state primary schools.¹ Ian Cumming and Alan Cumming, History of State Education in New Zealand 1840-1975, Wellington: Pitman, 1978, p.103. All children had to be given free education between the ages of five and fifteen, termed 'school age'. ² ibid., p. 102. Compulsory schooling was required for all children between the ages of 7 and 13 years, this was increased to 14 from 1901. Eligible children had to attend primary school for six sessions per week (choosing either a morning or afternoon session).³ ibid., p. 143. Teachers were required to deliver a prescribed curriculum consisting of: reading, writing, arithmetic, English Grammar and composition, geography, history, elementary science and drawing, object lessons, vocal music and for girls there was the additional subjects of: sewing, needlework and domestic economy. ⁴ibid., p. 102. Object Lessons were common in the nineteenth century and were first employed by the Mayos, a Protestant clergy man and his sister. The lessons involved the children looking at some object e.g. The refining of silver ore. The teacher would lead the class through a series of statements about the object such as: the ore is melted and the silver skimmed and the teacher asks the children: 'Now what is it that separates the impure substances for the silver?' to which the children respond in unison: 'The heat of the fire.' Many of these lessons ended up relating to religious education. David Layton, Science for the People: The Origins of the School Science Curriculum in England, New York: Science History Publications, 1973, pp. 23-6. The curriculum was designed to prepare candidates for the proficiency examination, which was the entry examination into post-primary school. Students sat the proficiency examination at the end of standard VI or form 2. Failure in this examination meant students had to stay at primary school until reaching the official leaving age and most primary schools had a standard VII. Within the context of this study, the various types of post-primary schools have very precise definitions which must not be confused with the contemporary use of the term 'secondary school' which denotes universal post-primary education. 'Secondary School' describes a single sex academic school primarily delivering a curriculum prescribed by external examiners, such as the University Senate. Some secondary schools developed alternative programmes for less academic students but the main focus of the school was on preparing students for external examinations. 'Technical High School' describes a co-educational fully funded state school which had to provide technical and manual instruction, and it is interesting to note that teachers were paid less in this type of school. 'Combined High School' describes a secondary school which offered a variety of academic and practical courses and was usually co- educational. 'District High School' describes a co-educational school which was an extension of a primary school, offering a practical curriculum based on the agricultural sciences. Therefore, the term 'post- primary school' encompasses a variety of schools, all of which catered for students beyond primary level and up to the age of 18 years. [From Introduction]
New Zealand History, Secondary Study teaching, Science