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An Autobiography

Just as years before my interest had been kindled in the establishment of our system of
State education, and later in the University and higher education, so more recently has the
inauguration of the Froebel system of kindergarten training appealed most strongly to my
reason and judgment. There was a time in the history of education, long after the
necessity for expert teaching in primary and secondary schools had been recognised,
when the training of the infant mind was left to the least skilled assistant on the staff of a
school. With the late Mr. J. A. Hartley, whose theory was that the earliest beginnings of
education needed even greater skill in the teacher than the higher branches, I had long
regarded the policy as mistaken; but modern educationists have changed all that, and the
training of tiny mites of two or three summers and upwards is regarded as of equal
importance with that of children of a larger growth. South Australia owes its free
kindergarten to the personal initiative and private munificence of the Rev. Bertram
Hawker, youngest son of the late Hon. G. C. Hawker. I had already met, and admired the
kindergarten work of, Miss Newton when in Sydney, and was delighted when she
accepted Mr. Hawker's invitation to inaugurate the system in Adelaide. Indeed, the time
of her stay here during September, 1905, might well have been regarded as a special
visitation of educational experts, for, in addition to Miss Newton, the directors of
education from New South Wales and Victoria (Messrs. G. H. Knibbs and F. Tate) took
part in the celebrations. Many interesting meetings led up to the formation of the
Kindergarten Union. My niece, Mrs. J. P. Morice, was appointed hon. secretary, and I
became one of the Vice-Presidents. On joining the union I was proud of the fact that I
was the first member to pay a subscription. The free kindergarten has come to South
Australia to stay, and is fast growing into an integral part of our system of education. I
have rejoiced in the progress of the movement, and feel that the future will witness the
realization of my ideal of a ladder that will reach from the kindergarten to the University,
as outlined in articles I wrote for The Register at that time.
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