"When I was Five I was Just Alive": Teaching Environments and Teaching Methods in New Zealand Infant Classes 1894 to 1904
This study of primary sources and literature records life in the infant (or preparatory) classes during 1894 to 1904, an era with a growing regard for compulsory education yet no established syllabus for children in pre-Standard 1 classes. It describes the development of these classes, their learning environment and the teaching methods used. The period is a one in which predominantly young teachers of children in these classes endeavoured to create, in the absence of formal curriculum guidelines, programmes of learning for their pupils. Teachers and inspectors often questioned the restricting environment and methods used in these lower classes, and called for reforms encompassing, for example, the child-centred ideas of educationalists like Pestalozzi. The study suggests that the more progressive ideas and practices developed by teachers of young children indicated a resistance to using teaching methods and maintaining a learning environment unsuited to the needs of young children. This resistance helped fuel reforms in teaching and learning in infant classes that gradually influenced teaching and learning in other areas of the education system.