The worlds of James Jeffery, Victorian teacher. (1995)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Education
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury. School of Educational Studies and Human Development
AuthorsJeffery, William Edgarshow all
This thesis closely studies the career of James Jeffery as a teacher, teacher politician and newspaper columnist from the earliest days of the national system of primary education (1879) through to his retirement in 1914, and beyond. It outlines his relationship with his school committees and the inspectorate, showing him to have been an innovative, articulate teacher, actively involved in the educational controversies of that era, but ultimately much less successful professionally than his early promise suggested he might have been. Recruited newly certificated from Victoria along with others who came to occupy significant positions in the Otago Education Board's schools, he was promoted early (1886) to the headmastership of a suburban Dunedin school. An inveterate proselytizer, self-educated through omnivorous and life-long reading, he aimed at preparing pupils for citizenship by having them think for themselves and form their own conclusions. He advocated and practised studying the world beyond the classroom - the events of the day, their background and the world of nature. As an extension of these aims he conducted two longrunning weekly newspaper columns which dealt with those worlds, and which consequently provide an insight into the interests and opinions of Victorian and Edwardian New Zealand. Throughout he sustained an active role in teacher affairs, being twice president of the Educational Institute of Otago, and of the New Zealand Educational Institute 1904-1905. He was an important and combative figure in many contemporary Otago educational controversies, and nationally in the battle to gain a superannuation scheme for teachers. This combativeness, coupled with his inability or unwillingness to contain his teaching within the confines of inspectorially approved systems and syllabuses were factors contributing to his failure to be promoted and to his early retirement, aged 56, in 1914. Wartime secretaryship of the Otago institute, technical college teaching, and patriotic work followed, and finally a brief foray into local politics as a city councillor.