AN EDUCATOR OF GIRLS. INTERVIEW WITH MISS M. REES GEORGE. On April 10 Miss M. Rees George, who has resigned from the Education Department after more than 30 years of successful and valuable work in the secondary education of girls, will leave by the steamer Ballarat on an extended trip to England. She has been granted an honorary commission by the Government to enquire into the cur- riculum, and management of secondary schools of Great Britain, and the methods adopted in schools in various parts of the Empire for the purpose of fostering a patrio- tic spirit. A representative of The Re- gister found Miss George on Wednesday still in touch with her familiar and well- loved surroundings in the old Advancement School Building, Grote street, which now forms a part of the Adelaide High School
group, for although her resignation took effect on the resumption of the classes after Easter, she is in no hurry to detach her self from the place, and was busily en- gaged in the office answering a pile of let- ters conveying expressions of goodwill in connection with her voyage, together with wishes for a safe return, from prominent educationists, teachers in different parts of the State, members of the League of the Empire, and old pupils. In the course of conversation Miss George gave an interest- ing summary of events in connection with her work in the department. 'I came out to South Australia 38 years ago,'' she said. 'My birthplace was Lewisham, in Kent, and I have been home on two occasions. One was in 1900, when I had a commission to enquire into secon- dary education in girls' schools, and the next time was in 1907, when I attended the Imperial Conference on Education ar- ranged by the League of the Empire.' 'Have you anything particular in view this time?'— 'Well, I have not made out any definite programme, but I think there will be a good deal of interesting work be- fore me. There is a meeting on July 19 at the Caxton Hall, London, for overseas tea- chers, and Mrs. Ord Marshall (Secretary of the League of the Empire in London) has asked me to reserve that date and also the rest of the month for different visits and expeditions that are to be undertaken. The league has a scheme now by which it be- friends visiting teachers, and secures for them temporary employment, so that they may get an insight ipto the methods of English schools if they wish it.' 'Do you think you will do any teaching while you are away?'— ''I do not know yet, but I rather think my time will be fully oc- cupied. ? Primarily I am going to visit my friend?, and my honorary commission will also give me plenty to do if I can go into it thoroughly. Then again the Y.W.C.A. education committee has asked me to see what is being done in the way of instruct- tion in Y.W.CA. centres. Apart from those things there is much to interest one
in a trip to the motherland. I do not think I shall be idle for a moment while I am away. I want to see what they are doing in other parts in regard to the league work, particularly in Capetown and Dur- ban, where the boat will call.' 'You are coming back to South Austra- lia?'— 'Yes, but I do not know when. My time is not in any way limited. I am free now to go and come back as I like. On my return I intend to devote my energies to the outside things in which I am inte- rested. The future is quite a closed book at present, as I do not know what may occur, but I have plenty of interests which would prevent me from finding life mono- tonous.' 'How did you first become associated with the Advanced School for Girls?'— 'It was in this way. I had been in Ger- many for some years, and when the Ad- vanced School opened the late Mr. J. A Hartley (Inspector-General of Schools) wanted a teacher of German for it. I could speak the language at that time bet- ter than English; in fact, many people took me for a German when I was living in Ger- many. Mr. Hartley asked me to have a conversation with the late Mr. von Treuer (then German Consul), and. I suppose the result was satisfactory, as I received the ap- pointment, and used to be at the school for an hour and a half each morning. At first it was held in Franklin street on the south side, in a building intended for a residence, which had to be altered to adapt it for teaching purposes. We carried on the school work there until we moved into the Grote street premises, which were built expressly for the Advanced School in 1889. "After I joined the department as Ger- man teacher I was asked to give
instruction in French as well and ultimately I gave my whole time to teaching. For a year I had a school of my own at North Adelaide, and then was asked to return in 1886 as head mistress in succession to Mrs. Hubbe. I did so. Mr. Hartley was the originator of the Advanced School for Girls. He was anxious that more should be done for the education of girls, and that they should be at no disadvantage in South Australia com- pared with what was being done at the colleges for boys. Up to that time but little was provided in the way of secondary education for girls, and the primary schools took them only up to the fourth-class standard. The advanced school was in tended to supply the need that was felt, and fees of £3 3/ a quarter were charged at first. Mr. Hartley was a very broad- ninded man. Indeed, I do not think an- other could be found to equal him in breadth of view. He was stern in appear- ance, but most warmhearted, and a friend to all teachers. His attainments were so wide that I do not know of any subject on which you could not consult him. In those days I knew no botany, so he under- took to give me some lessons. Then there was a lack of mathematical training in the school, and he gave some of the other teachers and myself instruction in Euclid to help us in that, subject. Mr. Hartley was always ready in such ways to place his time and knowledge at the disposal of the teachers. Once, when I was away on sick leave, he came to the school and took the senior arithmetic lesson in place of me. The grant given by the Government for the establishment of the school was paid for over and over again before it merged into the Adelaide High School. Every year we used to pay a surplus into the Treasury. Besides that for many years we educated the bursary girls without the cost of the bursaries appearing on the balance sheets at all.' 'The advanced school soon gained the confidence of the public? I think it did, and from a start with 29 pupils (as I am given to understand), we ultimately had an attendance of more than 180, and the building began to prove too small for
comfortable working. Then the numbers began to fall somewhat. This was due to the establishment of fifth and sixth classes in the primary schools, the com- mencement of the Pupil Teachers' School, and the starting of good private schools for girls, principally supplied by teachers who had had their training in the Advanced school. Although we may not have had so many pupils as formerly, yet I think the institution had a great influence on education, and it is understood that its methods served as a sort of model for other schools.' 'Now it is merged Into the Adelaide High School?'— 'Yes; amalgamation oc- curred about six years ago. When the High School came into existence Mr. W. J. Adey was appointed head master, and I was given the post of head mistress. Tho work has gone on very smoothly and har- moniously.
'You are sorry at parting?'— Yes, I am very sorry. It is a wrench to leave work to which one has been attached for so long, but I feel as much interest in it as ever.' 'Can you draw any contrasts between secondary education to-day and what it was formerly?'— 'Yes; and I am struck with the vast privileges and benefits which exist nowadays. Formerly to proceed be- yond the fourth-class standard a girl had to pay £12 12/ a year at least. Now they can come to the High School free. I do not know whether what can be had for nothing is appreciated as fully as it ought to be, but happily the spirit is improving, and I think the children are beginning to appreciate the privileges that are theirs. Sometimes,, after entering, they would leave just as they or their parents fancied, but now, I think, on the whole, the at- tendences are very fair, and the children are looking to their responsibilities in a more earnest manner.' 'The problem of girls' education?'— 'It is an extremely difficult one, and I do not know whether we have really met the needs of the time. I may be able to see in my travels something that may be bet- ter fitted to help those who are growing into' womanhood. I think the spirit of the age is rather towards flightiness, and there ia not the earnestness in the average pupil which we used to meet with in the Advanced School. Of course, we had picked pupils then to a certain ex-
tent, but I think there is in the general attitude of people nowadays a want of earnestness and a lack of conscientiousness. There are some, however, who do take an earnest view of their responsibilities, but I am speaking of what I think is the spirit of the age. We as teachers do all we can to counteract that by striving to inculcate high ideals regarding the benefit of work and its nobleness, and the importance, of grasping one's responsibilities. The curricu- lum? It is practically the same as it was 25 years ago, although some new subjects, like Nature study, have been introduced. Others are the same, only we go further with them, as, there were no higher public examinations in. those days.' 'Do you think many of the subjects taught are suitable for girls who will enter into home and domestic life?'—'I think they are of benefit as mental training, but I do not believe the curriculum we have quite meets the needs of those who stay at school for only a limited time and those who are more backward. As I have often stated, I do not think enough attention is given to English literature; and such sub- jects as history, grammar, spelling, and reading. I am a great advocate for a good and thorough English education, and the development of a taste for the best litera- ture.' 'How do yon regard the training of girls in the domestic arts?'— 'Such a course is very good, but it should be a special one, of which English should be some part. No doubt it would go far to meet my asser- tion that the present system does not quite
answer the needs of the majority of girls who enter the high schools. In my opinion they want an ideal kind of course, and I do not see at present how it is to be worked; but that is a part of the things I want to look into when abroad.' 'Will you enumerate some of the suc cesses obtained by the Advanced School?'— 'I could say a lot on that score, but do not want to be regarded as speak- ing in a boastful kind of way. The results achieved are well known to the public, and I think no other similar institution for girls in South Australia, could equal them. In one of the rooms are the portraits of many pupils who have taken degrees. Still, I do not think that is the main part of what we accomplished, as we have old scholars spread far and wide, and they are doing very good work in many departments of life. One of the great characteristics noticeable in them is their loyalty to their old .school." 'What is your opinion of so many girls entering for the University public examina- tions?'— 'These examinations serve a pur- pose, and give an impetus and interest to school work. They should not, however, be looked upon as the end of everything. There must be some test of work, and until we find some substitute for examina- tions I suppose we must retain them. In view of the exclusion of the real object of study, we have tried to interest our pupils in the work for the work's sake.' 'How did you first take up your work for the. League of the Empire?'— 'I think it was the late inspector Whitham who had some papers sent to him, and I came into the correspondence with Mrs. Ord Marshall, of London. At a meeting con- vened by Professor Bragg (then President of the Teachers' Guild) at the University
it was decided to form a branch, and I was made Secretary pro tem. After a definite committee was elected I became Secre- tary, and have been so ever since. It has grown into a big thing, and is very full of interest just now. At the outset Sir George Le Hunte prophesied that the Town Hall would not be large enough for our meetings. That has proved true, as for the annual demonstrations we have to use the Exhibition Building. The league has been instrumental in getting the cele- bration of. Empire Day an established fact. Our great desire now is to see the proposed statue to the great explorer Sturt erected on the site allotted for it in Victoria Square. The statue committee still requires £300 to be raised, and the league is try- ing to help. We have £30 in hand, con- tributed mostly by the little country circles, but we are going to persevere, and if' people will assist us we expect to see the statue erected in due course. It is a great debt that the community owes to Sturt.'
An arrangement has been made (says The Times) 'for co-operation between the Board of Trade and the. principal A&ntic 6teamship lines in carrying out during the present year the recommendations of the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee in their report on lifeeaving at eea with re spect to stationing a vessel for ice obser vation -to the north of the steamship routes across the North Atlantic. In accordance with the advice of a special conference summoned by the' Board of Trade to con sider the best means of giving effect to this recommendation, it is proposed thai a vessel, should be stationed off the east coast of North America', to the north of the steamship routes ' during the coming spring to watch the break-up of the ice and to report its movements .on the way to the routes.' The Scotia, a whaler, for merly employed in the Scottish Antarctic expedition, has been chartered to carry out thp' work, . and it was expected that she would be ready to leave Dundee about tbe end of last, month. The vessel was fitted 'with a Marconi wireless installation having a long range, so1 that she will be able to keep in touch with the wireless stations in Newfoundland and Labrador. The cost of the expedition will be shared between His Majesty's Government and the princi pal Atlantic steamship lines. The new parson Jnet one of his most earn est parishioners in -the lane one morning. After a desultory conversation, he re marked:— 'I hope. Giles, you make a prac tice of saving? There is nothing like put ting something away for a rainy day.' 'in- deed, no, sir,' auswered Gilet,, respectfully. I make it a rule never to spend more than two-thirds of me wages a week.' 'Ar that's the way— that's the way!' said the new parson, and beamed broadly. 'And I suppose the rest of it you put? in the Sav ing Bank?' 'Oh. dear, no, sir!' answered Farmer Giles, complacently. 'The rest 1 gives to the missus on which to keep 'ouse.'